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.


Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Prado Day Center donators beware.

Large single donations of brand new coats have been witnessed of getting snatched up in the past and hauled off to a vehicle in the parking lot almost just as soon as they arrived, after having been checked in the office.

This is a common occurrence. Management takes no part in overseeing the distribution of clothing and other similar donations. Practically no one has a chance to have a pick at the items. Things are shared among tight knit groups of cronies.

and this is no different on how some of our foreigh aid ends up

Perhaps a video of this happening would be a good thing? I know you can’t audio record someone in Ca without there express permission…what about video?

If they are on public property, and you are shooting a video, then it should be okay. If CAPSLO really wanted their clients’ identities to be confidential, they would have provided a waiting place so they wouldn’t have to stand on the street.

I have followed this entire series and although I haven’t commented and hadn’t planned to, here is a quick culmination of thoughts regarding this story.

Can anyone imagine hearing a homeless man complain that the shelter is keeping many thousands of dollars of his money and they won’t allow him to have any of it to buy a new pair of shoes? Is there anyone who would have thought that he was anything but crazy (mentally incapacitated)?

I would say that the system is working quite well for those who collect a salary from it and guess what, surprise – that man isn’t crazy.

Apparently CAPSLO has requested an audit and it has been recommended by an official that an outside firm be brought in. They’re claiming that they have no rights to audit Family Ties and seem to be attempting to distance themselves from that situation. I suggest that these auditors have a look at the case files and determine which clients have been sent to FT and how much has been deposited by these clients. The case managers are the ones who give the FT checks out to the clients and they also know how much is being paid in gov benefits to FT for these clients. CAPSLO is more than capable of coming up with a list of potential victims, after all, they’re the ones that led the sheep to the slaughter to begin with. Of course there are many other questions about income and expenditures including cash income for the sale of donated items. Lists of who received gift cards and accounting records of donations received on premise etc. I seriously doubt that an in depth audit has ever been done.

There are 3 types of audits by the way and most of these agencies simply have what’s called “a review”. A review or a compilation statement are not REAL AUDITS. This doesn’t uncover any fraud. A review simply states that the firm (accountants) confirms that what your balance sheet accounts reflect is backed up. That means that your bank statement is balanced, that you have a list of your assets and a depreciation schedule, that you have contracts that tie out to your loans etc. It doesn’t determine if all your claimed expenses are appropriate or if you even spent the money on what you say you did. It only confirms that what you say you spent was spent and what you SAY your income/funding sources are, is reflected in the books. In other words, if you were funded $350K from a general account, they confirm that you deposited it in the right account.

If they request anything other than a full audit, they’re fooling you and I bet they rarely if ever have one.

Thank you for the info, Cindy. Good job.

They need a “forensic audit” and that takes specially trained auditors.

QUOTING CINDY: “Apparently CAPSLO has requested an audit and it has been recommended by an official that an outside firm be brought in.”

AS IF “outside audits” cannot be bought, just like “inside” audits are bought.

Whomever does the audit, unless it is an IRS investigator, believe me, they will be bought. Adam Hill will ensure it is bought.

There is a easier way.

They can only audit the documents and accounts they are given documents for.

No documents no problem.

Yes, indeedy. That is exactly what at least one local CSD does.

Most homeless don’t have laptops and aren’t aware of what is happening with the Trustee accounts. Many don’t even know that Family Ties is their Trustee. I think it’s time to find out how many other homeless were sent to Lisa Neisen by CAPSLO. I think we should print a flyer and pass it out at the shelter between 4:30 and 5:PM. That is when everyone is lining up outside for dinner.

It should say that there will be a meeting for anyone who has a SSA/SSI check that is being automatically deposited into a trust account through the help of CAPSLO or FT and anyone who is paying money to CAPSLO. We will have to determine a place and time for them to all meet with us. We can start there and begin the vetting process. We can also ask about any friends who had money being saved who disappeared or died. I will prepare and pass out the flyers but I can’t do all this alone. Any takers? Any ideas where a good central meeting place in SLO might be?

Remind anyone handing out flyers near the shelter to stay on public property, if they accidently step on private property they might get a visit from a CAPSLO thug, a policeman who is a friend of Mr Hill, or a late night visit from Ms Neisen. Even if they stay on public property they will likely be harrassed so have them do it with a friend nearby to act as a witness

I suggestion would be a local church or other non=profit searching the truth.

Why drag the innocent into this?

Let the slow grind of justice work it’s self out.

Who is innocent?

These poor people. You do realize that everyone who was sent to Neisen with gov benefits has been declared mentally incompetent. It is actually the dept of social security that does this after Neisen contacts them. Many times, these clients don’t understand that they are meeting with someone from SS to determine if they’re mentally sound. After what I saw happen with Cliff Anderson and realizing that all the clients CAPSLO sent to Neisen ended up with this status, I have to wonder if someone at the SS department is simply arbitrarily assigning the clients a status of mental incapacity based on the fact that they’re homeless and have requested a Trustee? I seriously doubt that these clients understand the process or what they’re giving up by trusting CAPSLO case managers suggestions to sigh over their benefits.

I’m not trying to be a trouble maker here or even suggest a conspiracy, but rather I suggest complacency. I believe that the intentions were probably well meant when this started many years ago. I do however believe that this process has “evolved” into something that is anything but benevolent or in the best interest of the clients. It’s certainly time to revisit the process and I guess that has started with Cliff Anderson and restoring him to the rightful and legal status of mentally competent and independent. As to recovering his funds, it’s time to file a report of theft with the DA.

CAPSLO knows full well that the clients can’t use Family Ties unless they’re declare mentally incapacitated and it is CAPSLO that encourages the clients to use Niesen. They promise a bed every night and eventual housing if they clients who receive the SS benefits use Niesen. SO, my question is, are you sure it’s Niesen that actually contacts SS to have the clients qualified as mentally incapacitated or is it CAPSLO who does it through their case managers and then sends them to Niesen after they are qualified?

CAPSLO as much as they would like to distance themselves are clearly in over their heads. HOW DEEP IS THE WATER?

Doesn’t a Dr. have to sign off on the mental illness. Is it really possible that CAPSLO “requires” the SSI/SSA clients to sign up with Family Ties to become their guardian, Family Ties refers them to Social Security and someone there declares them mentally incompetent, without a Doctor’s diagnosis. Really, anyone can do this to someone. I am having a difficult time understanding this. I am in disbelief! What control over a life with no oversight. REALLY?

SLOBIRD, I do know that the clients have a meeting with someone from SS at the request of Niesen or as Paul Jones has pointed out, possibly CAPSLO. It is at this meeting that the clients are declared incompetent and are qualified for FT intervention. I have no reason to doubt that the SS employee is a medical professional. The problem is that everyone that is sent over to FT by CAPSLO ends up being declared incompetent. Something isn’t right here as we have seen that Cliff Anderson was recently seen by a professional who declared that he is absolutely competent, cognizant and demonstrates adequate math skills. I have personally met Cliff , had lunch with him and can confirm that he is a pleasant lucid man who has a difficult time eating his beloved tri-tip sandwiches because rather than his Trustee give him his money to see a dentist, social services pulled his teeth out as a non payee.

I suspect that the SS determination is basically a rubber stamp approval by a medical professional that automatically declares these clients mentally incapacitated based on the recommendation of CAPSLO and the case managers stated need for FT intervention, compounded by the clients (coerced) desire to enter into a Trustee agreement.


What if an outside medical professional ,properly licensed for mental evals, made an evaluation to determine Cliff’s competency? Would that be of help in any way to him, and perhaps others in his situation?

I guess you missed this part of my post. “Cliff Anderson was recently seen by a professional who declared that he is absolutely competent, cognizant and demonstrates adequate math skills.”

It will take about 30 day’s for SS to review the new doctors report. I guess I should have clarified that it was a M.D. who recently saw him .

I believe this was all mentioned in the 2nd or 3rd article in this series?

This is awesome. All the homeless need to be interviewed eventually. Please do your best to verify the background of those people who will be interviewing the homeless and gathering information.

When you do intake interviews with the homeless, be sure to ask them not only about SSA/SSI income, but also military disability income, military retired pay and veteran’s disability income. A significant number of the homeless are veterans. All the federal pay systems use representative payees just like the Social Security Administration.

Perhaps when this information is collected, a few local lawyers could band together to help these people get their financial matters back into good hands and get their due process rights protected. The employees and former employees may also need protection so stay in touch with them.

Hopefully the attorneys can be compensated under California’s private attorney general laws or qui tam laws. If not, this is a raw public need for pro bono services.

These actions would be independent of any criminal prosecutions for Social Security fraud, IRS violations, elder abuse and other violations. Thos must be prosecuted by those agencies, the District Attorney or the California Attorney General.

QUOTING MARK JAMES: “I think we should print a flyer and pass it out at the shelter between 4:30 and 5:PM. That is when everyone is lining up outside for dinner.”

Oh, LET’s DO just that. I wonder if we would be arrested?

I just viewed Family Ties 2011 tax filling and am confused.

(2011 form 990 –

In reviewing the 990-EZ Short Form for Family Ties:

Family Ties clearly listed Dr. Hanson, Deborah Jett and Lisa Niesen as its principle officers using a local PO Box.

Family Ties clearly listed Dr Hanson doing work 1 hour per week for this non-profit, Deborah Jett 1 hour per week, and Lisa Niesen 10 hours per week.

Kristin Fisher (Paladin Bookkeeping Services), is listed as having the Family Ties books, also using the same PO Box number for their business as Family Ties PO Box, same PO Box listed by Dr. Hanson and Deborah Jett.

Family Ties uses Lisa Niesen’s County phone number as business phone number (805-781-5593) an yet on the tax form lists phone expense as $777

Family Ties lists repairs and maintenance at $3054 annually for a 10 hour a week job, at Prado Day Care Center, and probably uses her home for her fixed location as none are listed.

Family Ties lists meals at $942 (for a 10 hour a week job).

Family Ties lists bookkeeping services at $1344 (for a total of $25,851 reported income).

Family Ties paid salaries $5951, office expenses $2147, advertising/promotion $432, as well as other questionable deductions.

It seems to me that IRS should be notified immediately regarding this non-profit. I think an audit would be appropriate and have sent my letter to to IRS and request each of you to copy the tax return, make comments regarding these deductions and request an immediate audit of this bogus non-profit.

Perhaps she has the position as Chief Public Guardian with SLOCo because she IS a thief.

Let’s see. Here we are about 3 or so months into articles concerning CAPSLO and Family Ties, and their purported mishandling of the homeless, mismanagement of a non-profit organization, and general ripping off the citizens of this county. All with a ‘don’t give a s*** attitude’ when it comes to answering detailed questions about their organizations and how they are run. Is that about right?

If so, then I must pose a question? Just what has to be done, what steps need to be taken, and who has to take them in order to move this along? Obviously, KSBY and/or the Trib ain’t going to do anything, the Board of Supervisors has turned a deaf ear, and the 100+ comments to any of the several CCN articles has gotten very little in terms of any real results.

Shall we all be happy little campers (like the citizens of Paso Robles vis-a vis the Chitty Bang-Bang

debacle) and eventually the story gets buried, the guilty go unpunished, and life goes on pretty much the same way as it always has? No one can convince me that that is exactly what CAPSLO, Familty Ties and the BOS want and are probably fairly sure that that is what will happen, if they just stick to their guns and refuse to open up and answer valid concerns (just like the city council and Mr. App did in Paso Robles).

Please don’t say it will take an act of Congress to get some results – if so, then it is a total lost cause.

Is there not an agency in Sacramento that should have the power to resolve this, get to the bottom?

Or is it likely that they all have there hands in each others pockets so deep that nothing will ever be done?

Whom has the job of moving this on up the chain, so we can stop with the several people ranting and raving on CCN and get some dam* answers??. Or maybe we all (including myself) just like to rant and rave, then go on with our boring, meaningless lives and allow such things to continue to happen?

“Or is it likely that they all have there hands in each others pockets so deep that nothing will ever be done?”

This horrible, horrible situation where our County is providing protection for the fraudulent activities of Dee Torres/CAPSLO will simply NOT advance “up the food chain” as long as Dee Torres has her hands in the front pockets of Adam Hill.

It seems he is whoring his position as County Nincompoop to provide protection services to Torres. I mean, sinking so low as to create a FACEBOOK account to protect her, using his election campaign goons to do it?

We, the CCN community, should step up and do something about this situation. The voices of many can help bring audit and change to this horrible situation.

This is a serious issue. Let’s not just sit here and chat about it on this board. Let’s pull together, get all of our resources together and DO something about this!

Who’s in?

danika…..I am in…….my question to CCN is have any authorities been notified such as the IRS, Social Security…..etc….etc….if so what can we all do to help? OBVIOUSLY notifying any local authorities is a waste of time as they all protect each other. CCN has an abundance of documentation. I will be more then happy to get on board.

It works at the federal level (remember Bengazi? Yeah, neither do we…), so why not try it on the local level… Obstruct, obfuscate, deny, ignore… destroy the messenger, etc.

CCN..In your article on this subject Feb 23 you state ” 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. “In this article you state on friday feb 22 midnight Nieisen appeared with the paper.

There is a difference in perception between a midnight visit and a morning visit so i wonder which one

it is?

Thank you for the clarification…2 visits to force this poor soul to sign papers.People should

remember how Jim Jones contoled his flock by controling th

oops ..last sentence cut off..controled his flock by contoling their money.

I just love this part:

“Anderson’s attorney then posted a no trespass sign on his door with Niesen’s name on it.”

I would like to see a photo of that.

The much BIGGER story here is there has to be MUCH MORE than just Cliff Anderson beiing abused!

And an even BIGGER story is ‘has CAPSLO really gotten over 160 homeless into housing last year as Jim Famalette, Chef Operating Officer of CAPSLO, claims!

Isn’t that he point of this whole thing.

Are they KEEPING THEM HOMELESS or are they really and truly PUTTING THEM INTO HOUSING?!

And by the way the FIRST AMENDMENT only applies if you speak nice!

“Are they KEEPING THEM HOMELESS or are they really and truly PUTTING THEM INTO HOUSING?!”

After all of the accounts of the goose-stepping, vindictive actions by the staff of the homeless shelter toward their clients, it seems clear that there is no longer a “conflict of interest” when it comes to the best interests of Dee Torres and her fellow CAPSLO vampires versus the best interests of the homeless shelter clients.

The conflict is over:

Torres and her CAPSLO vampires have more power, control and access to state and federal funding while the shelter clients are NOT placed in residences but, instead, are forced to use CAPSLO/County-oriented shelter services.

Therefore, their focus isn’t really on placing homeless citizens in housing…their main focus is to keep homeless citizens forced to construct their days around being at the shelter at the exact time, and dancing to the bizarre tune of those running the shelter, so they simply can have a safe place to sleep at night.

“Leech” is a much better term; if you use “vampires” you might only attract 12-16 year old girls.

Hey, what an idea! We just leak it out through a few message boards that Rob Pattinson is donating his time at the facility, certain date and time, and–voila!–we have our own flash-mob.

Anyone who does business in SLO knows that Joe Diehl has a reputation as one of the biggest a-holes in the legal profession

takes one

“Takes one to know one”–REALLY?

That is a catchy, childish singsong phrase, but it is not actually true, and is very akin to “I know you are but what am I?”

isoslo…..birds of a feather?