CAPSLO soaking up nonprofit fund pool

February 7, 2013
CAPSLO CEO Biz Steinberg and Supervisor Bruce Gibson

CAPSLO CEO Biz Steinberg and Supervisor Bruce Gibson

Keeping them homeless

By KAREN VELIE, JOSH FRIEDMAN and DANIEL BLACKBURN

(Editor’s note: This is the second in a series about San Luis Obispo County Homeless Services and the nonprofits managing the program.)

For the duration of its 48-year existence, the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo (CAPSLO) has skirted public scrutiny by assigning to itself the designation of a “private” nonprofit corporation.

That has complicated, but not completely deflected efforts to peel back the layers of CAPSLO’s funding sources and annual expenditures.

California’s Public Records Act specifies that if a private entity performs a public function, was created by a public agency whether directly or indirectly, and receives public revenues, it is considered a public body, subject to California’s openness law.

Jim Famalette, chief operating officer of CAPSLO, denied a public records request in June from local attorney Babak Naficy. Naficy, acting on behalf of a private client, had requested that CAPSLO turn over documents seeking financial details from CAPSLO regarding curious grants to a Morro Bay residence house called Roandoak of God.

Famalette’s denial read in part, “Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo is a private, non-profit corporation, not a government agency. We are required to keep all client information in confidence and cannot release such without the written consent of the client. Our files are reviewed regularly by state and federal agencies as well as our own auditors to insure we are in compliance with all guidelines and regulations of all our varied funding sources.”

By combing public documents from other sources, CalCoastNews has pieced together an emerging picture of some of CAPSLO’s complex fiscal activities. Its programs and activities are not limited to San Luis Obispo County. It has nearly 1,000 employees and operates in nine California counties: Orange, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Fresno, Kern, Monterey, San Benito, San Joaquin and Santa Cruz.

And as CAPLSO expands, county and other local government funding for other nonprofit organizations is steadily shrinking.

CAPSLO funds have increased in recent years despite a multi-year economic downturn. CAPSLO’s tax forms show that in fiscal year 2008 the nonprofit brought in $51,499,811 in total revenue. In fiscal year 2011, CAPSLO’s total revenue increased to $59,767,661.

capsloCAPSLO’s expenses have increased proportionally over the same period, rising from $51,482,501 in 2008 to $59,675,218 in 2011.

Employees accounted for more than half of CAPSLO’s nearly $60 million in expenses, to its employees. The nonprofit, with more than 900 employees, paid out $31,479,495 in total compensation to its employees in 2011. Employee costs in 2008 totaled less than $23 million.

The agency also pays for independent contractors to do in-home child care in San Luis Obispo County. Four of their child care providers make over $100,000 a year with the highest paid $128,644.

Most of CAPSLO’s funding comes from government grants. CAPSLO received $56,388,811 in government grants in fiscal year 2011.

In comparison, Community Health Centers of the Central Coast, which offers medical, dental and mental health care for low income and uninsured residents throughout San Luis Obispo and northern Santa Barbara counties, received only $19,432,572 in government grants in fiscal year 2011.

Community Health Centers and North County Connection, which provides drug and alcohol recovery services, have suffered severe funding cuts from the county in recent years. Community Health Centers lost more than half of its county funding since Supervisor Adam Hill, first took office in January 2009. Hill has a relationship with CAPSLO executive Dee Torres, CCN has reported. Community Health Centers received $6,154,248 from the county in 2008, but only $2,783,496 in 2012.

North County Connection, which Hill described as a “racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic” organization during a 2012 board of supervisors meeting, lost nearly half of its funding as well. The county contributed $49,058 to the nonprofit in 2008, but only $27,600 in 2012.

In the same period, CAPSLO also endured a county funding cut, dropping from $4,749,254 in 2008 to $3,828,597 in 2012. But the CAPSLO funding did not drop at nearly as sharp a rate as the other local nonprofits. CAPSLO continues to receive more than $1 million more in county funds than Community Health Centers, even though Community Health Centers provides services to more people.

Much of the money the county gives to CAPSLO comes as part of a yearly grant program administered by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. Each year HUD provides three different grants as part of a program called the Urban County. The program is supposed to bolster community development, affordable housing and emergency shelters in low income areas. HUD oversees implementation of the grants based on income levels in areas of counties.

The county poverty map compiled by the planning department on behalf of HUD shows that there are six tracts, or areas, in San Luis Obispo County where more than half of the residents have low to moderate income. Yet, since the 2010 census, HUD lists the city of San Luis Obispo as the only location in the county where more than 50 percent of the residents have low to moderate income.

The county map, used in both the 2011 and 2012 Urban County Action Plans, lists the San Miguel, Shandon, Paso Robles and Oceano tracts, in addition to the two San Luis Obispo city tracts as low to moderate income areas. HUD figures, however, show that other than the city of San Luis Obispo, only the Paso Robles tract is even within 10 percentage points of having a majority low to moderate income residents.

Planner Dana Lilley

Planner Dana Lilley

Supervising Planner Dana Lilley, who oversees the creation of the Urban County Action Plan, placed the blame on HUD, saying the county received its income data from HUD.

Another inconsistency appeared on the 2012 action plan. The community development project titles did not match their descriptions. Several projects that did not involve CAPSLO, like sewer and water repair at a Los Osos mobile home park and operation of an Atascadero food pantry, listed CAPSLO as the recipient of the funds.

After CalCoastNews asked Lilley about the inconsistencies, county planners changed the 2012 action plan so that it no longer listed CAPSLO as the agency receiving the funds for the mismatching projects.

In 2012, San Luis Obispo County received $2,641,037 in Urban County funding. Under the umbrella of the Urban County HUD program, CAPSLO received grant money for the Maxine Lewis Homeless Shelter, the Prado Day Center and its proposed new homeless campus, as well as for community development projects ranging from teen academic parenting to minor home repair. CAPSLO also receives $10,000 annually from the county for its tattoo removal program.

Five cities in the county also participate in the HUD grant program, and four of the five dispersed gave HUD funds to CAPSLO in 2012. San Luis Obispo, which gives CAPSLO more money than any other city in the county, also makes regular practice of giving the organization general fund money on top of the grant funds.

It did so again Tuesday when the council authorized a combined total of more than $200,000 to CAPSLO in grant and general fund money. City staff recommended the council to give CAPSLO additional general fund money because CAPSLO requested more for its existing and proposed homeless shelters than HUD allows the city to allocate/give for those purposes.

Though HUD is currently dispersing less money in its Urban County program than in previous years, CAPSLO is not expected to take a cut in funding. HUD is requiring greater transparency with the projects it funds, so the county plans to issue larger grants to fewer organizations. CAPSLO would be among the organizations receiving larger grants.

Hill supported that idea at a December 2012 board hearing on the 2013 action plan.

“If we’re trying to get our administrative costs down, having less grants to administer is just one of the obvious ways to do so,” Hill said. “But, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.”

CAPSLO originated as part of the ‘60s “War on Poverty” and the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. It now lists its activities as services to low income residents, seniors, and people dealing with daily challenges.

The act was amended a year later to facilitate the creation of offices of economic opportunity at the state level. And thus was born CAPSLO. Its programs now include Head Start, an Adult Day Services Center, Energy Services, a Senior Home Repair Program, a Utility Assistance Program, Senior Health Screening, and Forty Wonderful-Health Screening for Women.

Keeping Them Homeless, the series.


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SuperMex

So it’s Govt on Govt crime except we pay the bill.


dante0182

So, who is running against Gibson in the next election?


slojustice

I find it interesting when driving around San Luis Obispo how many of these pseudo governmental organizations exist. I think most are fronts for legalized money laundering operations using our hard earned tax dollars. I would love to see how much these administrators are making.


Rambunctious

Term Limits anyone?


The Gimlet Eye

To hell with the “term limits.” How about recall?


Rambunctious

I’ll sign on to that…lol


Jorge Estrada

What happened to our LOCAL NON-PROFIT of the 1970’s, where 3% was the overhead to provide their service to our locals. I can only guess why a local non-profit would expands outside our county, RECRUITS!!


south

If someone has the goods and wants to file a complaint it’s as simple as contacting the US Attorney’s office in LA and presenting the allegations. Here is the contact:


Lawrence Middleton, Assistant United States Attorney

Section Chief


The United States Attorney’s Office

Central District of California

Criminal Division

Attn: Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section

312 North Spring Street

Los Angeles, California 90012

(213) 894-5010


Be aware, though, AUSAs are very political and right now the pendulum is swinging far left. Since all the players in this alleged game are very likely Dems it is likely the complaint will fall on deaf ears. But you never know.


JB Bronson

Booty Ju Ju: Think of it from the perspective of a person who feels victimized after having trusted “the system”. Now you want them to trust the legal system? Haven’t we seen the lawyers walk away with a good bit of cash under the guise of helping the homeless?


Booty JuJu

For victims of theft or fraud, it takes zero dollars and minimal time to file a criminal complaint. Have any been?


MaryMalone

You are not only dishonest, you are heartless. You must work for CAPSLO, where ripping off victims just makes your day.


Many of these victims are of a group which has very, very limited resources, including transportation, housing and dependable food source. They also may not have the knowledge needed to go through the process of finding the right government agency, getting the right form, filling it out correctly, etc., etc.


All of the time spent doing this is time taken away from the time they have to spend on survival.


On the other hand, a CAPSLO leader like Dee Torres sits on her kiester and at least one agency’s attorney will be available to take care of it for her. She doesn’t have to wonder if there will be a place in a shelter for her, or any of the other many, many survival tasks homeless people have to do every day.


JackR

Why do you choose to sit behind a keyboard calling out others when you could be helping these victims make a complaint?


kayaknut

If Mary is paying taxes then she is helping just as every taxpayer is. Why do you sit behind your keyboard and not make sure everything at CAPSLO is run correctly?


JackR

My comment was about her calling someone heartless because, according to her, the homeless are not capable of filing a complaint. If she really felt this way, then she would be helping the victim(s) make a complaint. To not help, then how is she any different than the person she’s calling heartless?


I’m curious to find out what is going on with CAPSLO too. A complaint would hopefully cause some other facts to be disclosed.


kayaknut

If the county or city is giving CAPSLO several thousand or hundred of thousand of dollars it should not take a complaint to have CAPSLO looked into, it just makes sense to do it before the money is given out. I for one, check out any person, organization or such before a make apayment.


hijinks

Look into the mirror, dude.


justbehonest

This county protects their own.. I found out the hard way. I filed 4 citizens complaints ,*along with Kamala Harris letter stating departments must investigate. I filed a grand jury civil complaint. DA Shear protects this county.


The Gimlet Eye

A local yocal needs to hire some private detectives to infiltrate and get the goods on them and mail them to all news outlets. That will FORCE the authorities to move.


Many times, the reason why legal authorities do not move is because they are connected in some way, directly or indirectly, with the perpetrators. That’s how far the corruption typically goes.


myword

Booty JuJu,

I think there will be a complaint flied but it won’t be local.If you are sincere you must see that the city is too close to investage Capslo/Family Ties.


The Attorney General, FBI, and/or Social Security come to mind.


I believe right will prevail.


justbehonest

Even the Attorney General could not get this county to investigate. They cover up everything.I have all the digs.


SanSimeonSam

Once again the nay sayers are out to prove CCN and Karen Velie wrong. The level of corruption she has uncovered is beyond the realm of belief for most SLO folks. It speaks to conspiracy at the highest levels of county/city government. Yet when in the past has she been wrong? Kelly Gearhart, Gail Wilcox, Dan Devaul, the sheriffs playing at being thugs etc. I would like to think she is wrong, but i believe she will be proven accurate again. It remains time to bring in an independent crime force investigation team. I would think the BOS or the city council would demand it ….if they had nothing to hide. And don’t think it doesnt cost the taxpayers money. I believe perhaps the ones who will suffer the most are the residents of Los Osos who have been saddled with a sewer system that was selected by individuals like Gibson and Ogren that have made huge profit from their choices and added huge debt to the residents


The Gimlet Eye

Well said, SanSimeonSam. Government crime is an old game. Everyone should be appalled, but NOBODY should be surprised.


Unfortunately, when it comes to government malfeasance, there really is no dependable “independent authority” to appeal to except the freedom of the press, public opinion, bad publicity.


The constant drum beat of bad publicity is practically the only thing which will FORCE the appropriate authorities to move against these crooks.


The truth must be got out into the open where each member of the public has to see it and cannot claim that he does not know.