Family Ties fails to provide money or accounting

March 4, 2013
Lisa Niesen

Lisa Niesen

Keeping them homeless


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

A San Luis Obispo based fiduciary has failed to return a formerly homeless man’s money or to provide an accounting for expenditures as requested.

Cliff Anderson agreed to make Family Ties his representative payee in 2009. After becoming homeless in the aftermath of a fire at his apartment, Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo (CAPSLO) case managers told Anderson making Family Ties his payee would guarantee him a bed at the Maxine Lewis Homeless Shelter.

The saved money was supposed to be used to help place the now 69-year-old into housing.

In late January, Anderson asked his CAPLSO case manager for money for a pair of shoes. When rebuffed, he asked for an accounting of the $41,420 in Social Security payments sent to Family Ties since 2009. His CAPSLO case manager, who gave him a weekly check from Family Ties for $100, failed to provide him an accounting.

On Feb. 14, under a limited power of attorney for financial records requests, CalCoastNews served both CAPSLO and Family Ties with a demand for an accounting of Anderson’s funds. Lisa Niesen is the president of Family Ties and San Luis Obispo County’s chief deputy public guardian.

On Feb. 18, Anderson’s attorney Stew Jenkins, sent a demand for the return of Anderson’s money to Family Ties and canceled his CAPSLO case management.

Anderson currently is in privately arranged housing, but is unable to pay his rent and other bills because Niesen controls his funds. Niesen called Anderson Feb. 21 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.” She did not write a check for his rent or return his money to him.

Shortly after midnight on Feb. 22, Niesen and a friend arrived at Anderson’s rental wanting him to sign documents that Family Ties was not required to produce an accounting as legally requested. He did not sign.

CAPSLO has not responded to the records request. Family Ties hired attorney Joseph Diehl who responded to the request on Thursday with a letter stating Anderson’s accounting will not be turned over until he has a chance to review the records. Diehl has not yet turned over the records.

CAPSLO claims that clients’ funds are returned within 24 hours of canceling case management. However, Anderson’s money, which could be between $5,000 and $22,000, has not been returned to him. Family Ties failed to follow federal laws while serving as a fiduciary for Anderson, as a result, his Social Security disability benefits have been suspended.


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Nice to see that she lists her county phone number under the Family Ties nonprofit yet charges $777.00 for phone services on her tax statements. Stealing happens at the lowest levels too!

Question for Stew if you have time; Family Ties is bound by the law to provide accounting once requested in a timely manner to the individual requesting it, is this true and if so what is considered a reasonable time?

While I can agree that CAPSLO is doing all they can to deny that there is any problems with Family Ties, the general rule of thumb when engaging in a debate or argument is that the moment you compare someone or a group to the Nazis, you have lost the argument. I realize that you did not mention the Nazis by name, but the inference was there none the less. I would urge you to come up with a better comparison because I think you have made an excellent point, minus the poor reference.

Bob (my favorite pseudo intellectual) would you accept an historical reference to Tammany Hall. That was a time of great city corruption and petty tyrants and a populace that largely ignored the plight of those without political clout. It seems to me that when a city councilman like Mr plastic fantastic Ashbaugh can deploy our city police to harass homeless individuals that refuse to turn over their money to CAPSLO and Family Ties and a Supervisor like Gibson who launched an expensive campaign against a CAPSLO competitor (sunnyacres) so that the homeless have fewer options, well we have Tamany Hall.

i provided multiple choice options for the spelling of tamany or tammany hall….are there others…too lazy to google the correct spelling LOL

Boss Tweed!!!! good call

I agree that comparisons to Nazis are sometimes misused. The rule of thumb is if there are more important differences than similarities between that which is being compared, the comparison is probably invalid.

However, to ban all comparisons to Nazis, indicating “you have lost the argument,” serves no one but those who support the Nazis.

Just because a few misuse the comparison to Nazis doesn’t mean the Nazis should be given a free pass for logical comparisons.

In addition, there are some comparisons where the major real difference is degree of behavior between the two being compared. In that case, a modifier, such as “While what the Nazis did was off the charts in degree of behavior, we see the same mindset (or behavior, or whatever) in what occurred in Nazi Germany when we look at _______”

So, IMO, with that modifier, I believe both the reference to the statement “It was worse than anyone cared to admit” can be valid, as can reference to the “when they came for the Jews…” statement.

No matter the degree, in both instances people who probably considered themselves to be “good Germans” looked the other way when there was clear evidence that massive heinous atrocities were being carried out.

That type of behavior simply empowers those committing the offensive behavior, no matter what the degree.

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