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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QUOTING THE ARTICLE: “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….”

1. Does Mr. Anderson yet have a restraining order against Family Ties and CAPSLO? He should because it sounds like they are shifting into stalking mode.

2. I am surprised Liesen didn’t offer to exchange him a pair of shoes for Anderson signing his legal rights away.

MaryMalone…….do you know if anyone has filed complaints with the IRS, SS……so on and so forth? Niesen is sketchy to say the LEAST. What more can we do other then comment back on forth on here? Am waiting to see her on the nightly news in handcuffs ; )

A LOT can be achieved by people who take action. Ask the new City councilman, Steve Martin, how he got elected to City council of Paso Robles!

This board needs to come together and take CAPSLO to the mat. Clearly, we all have “specialties” that would be best served by joining forces in “real life”. I am no secret to anyone here on CCN. If you all want to move forward, I am willing to help in ANY way I can, personally and professionally.

This MUST stop!

I’m on board unless it has to do to creating a Facebook account. Too “Adam Hillish” for me.

I agree, I’d love to see Niesen do a frog-march perp-walk into the courthouse. Torres and Biz Steinberg, too.

I am hoping most participants here have filed complaints with the IRS. However, there is no way of knowing without taking a head count.

CAPSLO / Family Ties article index:

Alleged homeless advocates accused of stealinf from the poor (February 4, 2013)

CAPSLO soaking up nonprofit fund pool (February 7, 2013)

Homeless money guardian unlicensed (February 13, 2013)

Family Ties director says she was never on board (February 16, 2013)

Homeless man hassled by CAPSLO, Family Ties (February 23, 2013)

Workers say CAPSLO charges needy for donated items, doesn’t track cash (March 1, 2013)

Hill tries to divert spotlight away from his fiancée (March 3, 2013)

Family Ties fails to provide money or accounting (March 4, 2013)

And likely more to come in this incestuous, intra-governmental soap opera continues.

sorry for the typos, manual hyperlinks are tough in this little reply box… ;)

As usual, kudos to the ONLY NEWS SOURCE on the central coast:

KAREN VELIE, JOSH FRIEDMAN and DANIEL BLACKBURN – *the* Trifecta of Investigative Reporting.

and to Dave and Bill for doing their due diligence and giving airtime to Karen and folks at CCN

AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Our 60 minutes of the Central Coast. Or at least the old 60 minutes. I contacted KSBY. and asked why they were not reporting on this. Whats her name with the blonde hair……said it was up to the writers or program director or some BS…….the usual passing the buck………..Said she does not come to work until 2:30 and everything is already written. LOL….NO PLACE LIKE HOME!!!..Thanks CCN for digging, having guts, and the balls to give us the TRUTH about what is going on. Am sure KSBY will grab on to your shirttails once some of our local crooks have been arrested. ….Too little …too late.

“Whats her name with the blonde hair……said it was up to the writers or program director or some BS…….the usual passing the buck………..”

Well, at least she was truthful.

For many news outlets, the “anchors” with their faces in front of the camera really are meat puppets. They just read what has been written for them.

What she said is not B.S. It’s true. I was one of “them”. Local TV news is not the place to go

for investigative reporting. They simply don’t have the resources or inclination.

Local reporters/anchors are there to assuage their egos and to get somewhere else.

Don’t be so naive.

I know this story has been and still is a big deal…I don’t know all of the facts involved but it sounds like someone has had their hand in the cookie jar without permission. However I do have a question; Why would a person turn their SSI checks over to anyone else in the first place? especially a quasi government type org. I would think a person that made that decision would need their head examined…I would rather live in my car or under a bridge before Id give another person that much power over me.

If you are 69 yrs old, with health and feet problems, need assistance with meals, showers, washes/dryers, sleeping arrangements and told they will find you housing but you had to have an appointed guardian, approved, recommended and trusted by CAPSLO to manage your finances or you will NOT get meals, showers, a bed at night and other assistance, you would do what? Say what?

You have some homework to do:

Start Here then go here, then move on to this article, then to here and here, and finally this one to catch you (or anyone else) up to speed.

Thanks…rOy If you don’t hear from me for a month or so you know what I’ll be doing…reading.


You asked: “Why would a person turn their SSI checks over to anyone else in the first place? especially a quasi government type org. I would think a person that made that decision would need their head examined…I would rather live in my car or under a bridge before Id give another person that much power over me.”

I doubt Mr. Anderson had any choice at all. Someone had him labeled as legally incompetent. Then Family Ties Inc, supposedly a nonprofit organization, applied to be his Social Security approved representative payee. Along with that designation of legal incompetence, the SSA/SSI checks just started to flow to Family Ties Inc. All Mr. Anderson would know is his checks stopped and he was told to go to SLOCAP to his case manager if he needed anything. The only way he would then have to survive is to get food at SLOCAP facilities and have a guaranteed bed at the shelter. He would be given some cash and that was all he was able to control as long as that designation of legal incompetence was hanging out there.

Thanks JQ I understand. My statement was more of a personal reaction. However …whomever had him labeled didn’t do him any favor in my opinion. When dealing with “agencies” government run or not…most often It’s the labels that are the problem.

Personally, I believe that all excess funds in the trust accounts have been funneled back to CAPSLO. The case managers know full well how much is in these accounts. They are the ones that the clients pick up their payments from. Andersons case worker was handing him a $100.00 check each week that was issued from Family Ties. Hie case worker knew that he remained homeless and knew that he was receiving $970.00 a month from SSI. That information would all be in his case file.

Neisen has been filing her annual reports stating under penalty of law that no account that she held in trust had more than $2,000 in it. I believe she was telling the truth because she paid that money out somewhere else. She and CAPSLO probably justified that Cliffs meals and a bed were worth $500.00 a month, illegal as that is, I wouldn’t be surprised to find something like this out.

One thing for certain is that something is clearly very very wrong. Where is Cliff’s money? Where is the accounting that is required by law? Even the lawyer is breaking the law. It must be very bad whatever it is that is going on.

That’s right, Bob. An individual account for Mr. Anderson made during the time the funds were coming in and going out was required. Did it exist or not? It is a yes or no answer. If it did exist, photocopy the darn thing and give it to Karen Velie.

No attorney review can change any entry whatsoever. No attorney review is authorized or required. The attorney is only representing Ms. Niesen in her individual capacity. His request for delay to review the accounting could be life threatening to Mr. Anderson. There is no need to wait for this. An attorney cannot conduct business in a way that forces a dependent beneficiary of his client into starvation and homelessness. This is not business as usual. It is an emergency.

If the concurrent accounting did not exist, she’s just making up something from some collective records and her memory. That’s not good enough. That’s an issue for Social Security Administration. For every single month that Mr. Anderson’s individual account had more than a $2,000 balance, he was not eligible to receive SSI and those funds belonged not to Mr. Anderson, but to the Social Security Administration.

Since she reported to Social Security Administration that Mr. Anderson had more than $2,000 in his accounts since last summer, Social Security found him ineligible for SSI. That wouldn’t cause a problem to a payee if the Personal Representative either turned over all the money to him or spent the money on him each month to equal the amount he would have received from SSI until it was spent down. Once he was under $2,000 again he would again be eligible for SSI. The problem is she was supposedly removed as his personal representative and she has not given him the money forthwith! Once removed, she should have turned over the money immediately.

The problem is getting a personal representative payee removed isn’t so easy. He had to have a doctor’s report showing he was not legally incapacitated. He had to send that and an application to Social Security. Then he had to prove the negative; that he didn’t receive the balance from Ms. Niesen and Family Ties. We don’t know whether or not Social Security Administration has approved the removal of Ms. Niesen/Family Ties as his personal rep payee yet.

So what does the Sheriff think about this? He is part of their campaign.

@ JQPublic: “Does Family Ties Inc have an insurance carrier to cover errors and omissions?”

Errors and Omissions coverage excludes intentional acts. It would be unlikely that this kind of brazen lack of accounting would be unintentional. Can you accidently forget to do the accounting for $41,420 received since 2009?

Good point.

On the other hand, the circumstantial evidence of intent might help prove up a criminal charge that requires intent.

I believe that SSA requires that they have a fidelity bond or equivalent.

Maybe it’s time to re-name Family Ties to Family Lies.

…or Family Cries….