Homeless man hassled by CAPSLO, Family Ties

February 23, 2013
Cliff Anderson

Cliff Anderson

Keeping them homeless


(Editor’s note: This is the fifth in a series about San Luis Obispo County Homeless Services and the nonprofits managing the program. See Social Security’s letter stopping Cliff Anderson’s disability payments and a reported accounting of his funds held by Family Ties at the bottom of this story.)

A San Luis Obispo nonprofit reported that it has hoarded $5,000 of a formerly homeless client’s Social Security benefits, despite previously claiming the account was nearly empty.

Family Ties then reported the violation to the Social Security Administration after Cliff Anderson, who transferred more than $40,000 to the nonprofit, told the organization he would no longer use its services, and requested his money back. After receiving news of the amount Family Ties had saved, Social Security stopped Anderson’s disability benefits.

Lisa Niesen, president of Family Ties, said earlier this month that she had virtually nothing in Anderson’s account even though he had signed over $41,420 in Social Security payments to the nonprofit since 2009.

Niesen, who also holds the title of San Luis Obispo County’s chief deputy public guardian, first said that most of the hundreds of accounts managed by her Family Ties operation contained only $20 to $30. After Anderson provided copies of his Social Security records showing he was owed nearly $20,000 by Family Ties, Niesen said there was less than $2,000 in his account.

This week, Neisen adjusted that amount again, telling Social Security that Anderson’s account contained exactly $5,000 — meaning he would lose his Social Security benefits. Federal laws require that a person on Social Security Disability Insurance not save more than $2,000 in order to insure that the money is used for the recipient’s needs. If more than $2,000 is saved, SSI benefits are suspended until the money is spent down.

Niesen reported the new figures after Anderson said he wanted to withdraw from Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo (CAPSLO) case management, and recover the thousands of dollars from his Social Security income held in trust by Family Ties, the nonprofit that is tied to CAPSLO.

On Feb. 18, Anderson’s attorney, Stew Jenkins, sent a demand for the return of Anderson’s money. On Thursday, after several harassing comments from the Prado Day Center staff attempting to learn Anderson’s new address, Anderson was given a check from Family Ties for $100 of the $5,000 Family Ties claims to hold.

Shortly before he picked up his check, Niesen called Anderson and informed him that she had sent an accounting to the Social Security Administration, which would cause a change in his benefits.

Social Security officials then informed Anderson that his $5,000 held by Family Ties exceeds the allowable level, and that his SSI benefits were being suspended.

When he read the letter from Social Security, Anderson wept and expressed fear of becoming homeless again.

He currently is in privately-arranged housing, but is unable to pay his rent and other bills because Niesen controls his funds. Niesen called Anderson Thursday at about 9 p.m. telling him he could lose his housing if he did not tell her where he lived “so she could write a check for his rent.”

Anderson’s attorney responded by calling Niesen and ordering her to not to have any further contact with Anderson.

Instead, Neisen arrived at Anderson’s rental residence Friday morning, demanding his signature on documents, ostensibly to return his own money to him and cancel their business relationship. She then said she would return later with more papers for him to sign.

Attorney Jenkins is considering a restraining order to keep Niesen from harassing his client, he said.

Anderson agreed to make Family Ties his representative payee in 2009 after becoming homeless in the aftermath of a fire at his apartment. CAPSLO case managers told Anderson his money would be used to help place the now 69-year-old into housing.

However, the system intended to help San Luis Obispo’s homeless instead often keeps them indigent, preventing them from having sufficient resources for even basic needs like clothing, food, medical care, and personal comforts.

Almost four years later and after collecting $41,420 in Anderson’s payments while he remained in CAPSLO’s case management program, the agency continued to keep the bulk of Anderson’s money — usually providing him with only $400 of the $970 in Social Security benefits he receives monthly.

CAPSLO officials require homeless individuals to provide 50 to 70 percent of their income to CAPSLO or a designated payee in order to have a guaranteed bed at the shelter or an overnight parking space. Homeless people who receive Social Security payments are required to make Family Ties their representative payee, with an agreement that if they quit case management, their funds will be returned to them within 24 hours.

“The client’s funds should be returned to them within a 24-hour-period, unless it is a weekend or a holiday,” said Jim Famalette, CAPSLO’s chief operating officer, in a recent email to CalCoastNews.

Several homeless people have related the difficulty of getting their SSI money back after quitting case management. Family Ties, according to its nonprofit organizational rules, is only permitted to work with clients deemed mentally incapacitated or developmentally disabled.

As part of the process of making Family Ties their payees, clients are deemed mentally incapacitated through the Social Security Administration. To break away from Family Ties, clients must see a doctor and undergo a competency exam. Then after about 30 days, the recipient can apply for control over his benefits.

After discovering that he had been deemed “mentally incapacitated,” Anderson visited a physician.

“Memory skills long and short term intact, adequate math skills, oriented, and appropriate,” his doctor informed Social Security officials.


Keeping Them Homeless, the series.

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I would sure like answers to some of my original questions. How much are the salaries of the CAPSLO employees? Do they still have catered meals at their meetings? How much is the annual cost of those meals?

Taxpayer: Keep your eye on this site; your question and many others will be answered during the coming days.

Thanks. I do appreciate it. I just wonder how many meals to the homeless could have been paid for by the catering costs alone.

Thanks Mr. Blackburn,

At least we know where to find out what is REALLY doing on around the “Happiest City in the US”. Cal Coast news reminds me of how 60 minutes used to be back in the day when they were exposing thieves and crooks right and left!

Good. The fact that this series of article is growing such fire from the subjects in the article indicates you are doing exactly the right thing.

UPDATE: Karen will be joined by Dan Blackburn and Josh Friedman at 5:05 today on KVEC. Stew Jenkins will be on at a later date. He needs to wait until after the judge has made an initial ruling.

Does anyone know what/which item Stew will initially take to a judge for a ruling on? I know this has just started but I wonder what his first step will be? The restraining order?

Wow Dave: HOMERUN! You and Joe have knocked tonight’s show out of the park! Excellent radio, just sad that such a great show has to be based on such a sad topic. Let us hope that the light of Truth continues to shine on this.

PREDICTION…Lisa Neisen will ‘retire’ from the county with full benefits for life as well as praise for a job well done as stated by the SLO County Board of Supervisors with an additional parting bonus of $250,000 of tax payer money. Dee Torres will keep her vertical position at CAPSLO while obtaining additional horizontal employment as Adam Hill’s new highly paid administrative assistant.

You are correct Harry. Likely she will receive more than 250K. After all we taxpayers paid out 250K to cover up Gail Wilcox’s arrangement with Adam Hill and Gibson. Lisa is into big time crime with the boys so her pay out will be much bigger. Dee Torres, like Cherie whats her name, is of course the only person qualified person to fill the position in Adam Hills office. The only question is which position….religious or canine ?

How can this be? But you are right, golden hand shakes all around while stealing from the homeless.

SLO is corrupt!!!!!

Karen Velie (and hopefully Stew Jenkins) will be interviewed on KVEC 920AM Monday from 5:05 to 6 p.m. Tune in. Call in. Catch the live stream at http://www.920kvec.com.

I didn’t do it, nobody saw me do it, you can’t prove anything.

Cliff is probably out at Dan De Vauls………a man that actually gives a sh%& about the homeless!!!!!

How come none of this is on KSBY news? Seriously…Cal Coast news please start a news channel so we can REALLY find out what is going on around town! All of you at CCN are the BEST!!! Thank you for exposing all of this!!!! When do criminal proceedings start? Has anyone contacted SS or have any complaints been filed with the feds?

No one under 40 actually needs television for news anymore. CCN can just stay where they are on the crest of the wave of change… let the Trib and KSBY sink into their squalor.

Hey …wait a minute Roy!!! I am over 50! lol

Since I only come to this site rarely, I don’t know the ins and outs of this incestuous group. I just found out today: you are all the same 2 or 3 people with different email addresses! Hahahahaha!

And, I bet you follow guys around in black helicopters, too :)

b max….call it incestuous,,,,,Just make sure you are at work tomorrow at your county desk on time, Oh I forgot,,,,,,,,,,,,you all start out with a 90 minute coffee break . That is of course before your one hour lunch and nap time,

“Incestuous group”, sounds nasty. What’s your point?

Sorry, not following guys around in black helicopters, just following public and private sector people who claim to help the homeless but mainly seem to help themselves illegally to other peoples money.

BMmax, do you always post opinions from such a profound state of ignorance? By your own admission, you rarely visit this website and you don’t know much about the posting group. From that you launch an insulting opinion?

bmax says: “I just found out today: you are all the same 2 or 3 people with different email addresses! Hahahahaha!”

So basically you are telling us that you believe rumors from 2007.

Just call bmax = adam hill….hahahahahaha

This story gets worse and worse with each passing day. Quite frankly, I feel naïve and gullible.

I was told by other media, government officials and service organizations that these allegations were false and Karen was off her rocker, and I believed most of it. How stupid could I be!

However, the revelations presented in these articles paint an entirely different picture.

This is the story of corruption at its absolute worst, taking advantage of our most underserved.

This is a story of hundreds of thousands of dollars stolen from the poor and siphon to the corroded, cynical, revengeful, greedy and coldhearted people of our community. Truly disgusting!

This is a story of state and federal tax fraud at unprecedented levels.

This is a story of cover-up and racketeering.

Most of all, it’s a story about a politician from New Jersey that used tactics once deployed by Joseph Stalin to intimidated and threatened members of our community. E-mails and text gossips so vicious that they’ve silenced many at the Tribune and KSBY.

If there’s ever a reason for the State of California Tax Franchise Board and the IRS to prosecute those responsible, I don’t know what is.

Karen deserves a Pulitzer Prize for shining the brightest of lights on this corruption.

Last but certainly not least, Dave Congalton at KVEC for being our ears and eyes in the community. Dave has a passion, really a vocation, to protect those less fortunate. He would never admit or knowledge this, but I often see God working through him.