San Luis Obispo’s homeless barred from services

April 19, 2013


Scores of homeless, barred from Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo’s homeless services, spend their days begging for food, looking for shelter and avoiding city police who target them.

CAPSLO receives more than $60 million in government funding and support each year to provide services to those in need, including San Luis Obispo’s homeless population. But, the homeless are required to follow a set of rules imposed under the tenure of Dee Torres, homeless services coordinator. If the homeless don’t follow the rules, they are suspended or barred from receiving help.

Peggy Fowler, a former 20-year employee CAPSO’s homeless services, says the refusal to provide food to homeless barred from services is not only cruel, but also increases the likelihood someone will resort to stealing in order to eat.

“Suspensions from homeless services are for violation of the rules which include throwing a cigarette butt on the ground or arriving five minutes early,” Fowler said. “I felt that making someone sleep in the dirt for failing to do a chore is wrong.”

The rules include a ban on giving food to homeless persons who have been suspended from the program, entering the Prado Day Center through the driveway on foot and failing to control the physical tics and other behaviors resulting from medical conditions or mental illnesses.

If a homeless person fails to follow Torres’ rules, she bars them from receiving meals and a place to sleep and shower, according to the program’s rules and dozens of citations CCN staff have viewed. Many of those barred are refused services for months or years because they are unable to make it through a laborious readmission process Torres has put into place, Fowler said.

“The individuals who are homeless have priorities like, ‘where can I go to the bathroom,’ ” Fowler said. “We are withholding services that are paid for by both the federal government and the local community. Their whole system and lack of recourse is not right. The punishment of refusing food and shelter is pretty severe considering the rules broken.”

Erica Merchado has received several suspensions from CAPSLO’s homeless services, despite having a terminal illness, former 30-year employee Estella Bonds said.

Merchado, 32, has Huntington’s disease, which causes her arms to make constant involuntary movements. She was diagnosed with Huntington’s when she was 21 and entered CAPSLO’s homeless services two years later, Merchado said. Merchado utilized the services for more than five years.

CAPSLO last suspended Merchado about three years ago for taking her lunch out of the Prado Day Center to the bus stop on Prado Road, Merchado said. Staff also suspended her for taking food from the day center to a suspended homeless client, Bonds said.

Merchado now sleeps under the Madonna Bridge and spends much of her day sitting outside Circle K on South Higuera Street with other homeless who beg for food.

One rule strictly enforced by CAPSLO prohibits the homeless from coming within an eighth of a mile, or 660 feet, of the Prado Day Center between 4 p.m. and 8:30 a.m. and within an eighth of a mile of the Maxine Lewis Memorial Shelter between 7:00 a.m. and 5 p.m. Torres enforces the policy because her employees are afraid of the homeless, so she wants the homeless out of the area when employees are coming and going, she said.

If a staff member sees a homeless person, or even property belonging to a homeless person in the restricted area during those hours, it results in a suspension from services, according to CAPSLO rules. While suspended from services, the homeless can still incur more penalties. Many short suspensions compound into longtime bans, said Joette Sunshine, a former employee of homeless services who worked there for four years.

When a homeless person is suspended from services, that person is only allowed to enter the eighth of a mile zone surrounding both the day center and night shelter during one 15-minute time slot each day. If a homeless client wants obtain a print out of violations committed or acquire an application to re-enter services, the person must get in and out of the day center restricted area between 11:00 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. and the night shelter restricted area between 7:00 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. Failure to do so triggers an additional 30-day suspension.

Michael Pryor, an out-of-work computer technician and a former singer, received a 30-day suspension for cheating CAPSLO’s lottery system in an attempt to secure a bed in the shelter on a rainy night. Pryor used a ticket from an earlier night that someone had given him, and CAPSLO staff caught him.

Though Pryor received only a 30-day suspension, he is now suspended from services for 270 days because CAPSLO employees have spotted him within an eighth of a mile of the day center and night shelter outside of the 15-minute time slots, Pryor said.

Pryor sleeps outside. One day, he went to the shelter on a cold, rainy night to ask staff for a blanket. CAPSLO staff refused him a blanket and instead gave him an additional 30-day suspension for entering the restricted area.

Tiamoyo Peterson quit working for CAPSLO’s homeless services several years ago after taking her concerns of the treatment of the homeless to CAPLO’s CEO Elizabeth Steinberg, Peterson said.

Peterson, who has two masters degrees and a doctorate in social psychology, said she became concerned when Torres kicked out a homeless woman in her late 20s because the client was not always able to control her schizophrenia and would be obnoxious at times.

“It was (CAPSLO’s) position that Dee had a valid point of view and I shouldn’t have contradicted her,” Peterson said. “In this instance, the client’s behavior was obnoxious not dangerous. Dee believes that not only can a schizophrenic control their behavior, but that they should be punished when they cannot. Punishment for mental illness is inappropriate.”

Steinberg promoted Torres to the top position in homeless services around the same time a countywide Homeless Services Oversight Council was created.

In 2008, Torres’ boyfriend San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill became the founding chair of the Homeless Services Oversight Council, a group with a plan to end homelessness in 10 years by promoting a 200-bed shelter to be managed by Torres. Those staying at the shelter are to be required to give 50 to 70 percent of their income to case management allegedly to be used to get them into housing.

Several law enforcement agencies are looking into allegations that those managing the required savings accounts have been misappropriating the funds.

Together with San Luis Obispo City Councilman John Ashbaugh, Hill and Torres have worked to have the city and the police increase enforcement against homeless who refuse to enter case management.

Both Ashbaugh and Hill have regularly voted to provide government funding to CAPSLO. Ashbaugh sits on the CAPSLO board of directors and Hill is engaged to Torres but both men say there is no conflict of interest.

Earlier this year, the San Luis Obispo City Council voted to have police increase ticketing of homeless who do not participate in case management.

The SLO Downtown Association recently asked those in favor of supporting CAPSLO’s homeless services’ programs and who want the city to dedicate two police officers to focus on transients downtown to sign an online petition.

The city’s police department recently chose to implement a Community Action Team (CAT), composed of two officers who focus on transients in San Luis Obispo. Several local law enforcement personnel who say it is not constitutional to focus on a group of people and not their actions are referring to CAT as “Cops Against Transients.”

San Luis Obispo Chief of Police Steve Gesell says his department neither categorizes people, nor enforces the law based on status.

“We are trying to enforce the law equally but it would be foolish of us not to understand the dynamic of the homeless transient population,” Gesell said.

In 2012, San Luis Obispo police officers cited 605 people for breaking Penal Code 647(e) which makes it a misdemeanor to “lodge in any building, structure, vehicle or place, whether public or private, without the permission of the owner or the person entitled to the possession or in control of it.” In the rest of the county, only one person was cited for breaking Penal Code 647(e) in 2012, according to records requests received from all community and county law enforcement agencies.

Gesell says his department is utilizing 647(e) as a way to combat the environmental impact human waste from homeless campers has on the community. He refers to those homeless not utilizing CAPSLO’s services as program resistant.

SLO police officers are giving 647(e) citations to homeless found sleeping in parks, on benches or anywhere throughout the city. They also routinely roust homeless, including Merchado, who sit outside Circle K, even though customers of the convenience store and the adjacent Subway sandwich shop frequently buy them food.

On April 11, former CAPSLO employee Estella Bonds visited Merchado outside Circle K, and when a police officer arrived he not only scolded Merchado, but Bonds too.

Officer Eric Lincoln ordered Bonds to leave and told Merchado, “Come on, Erica. You know better.”

“If they’re running a homeless shelter, they’re not going to make any money,” Lincoln said. “They call. I come — kind of like the Domino’s Pizza Guy.”

Bonds told Officer Lincoln that she was not homeless and he stopped ordering her to leave the area.

Defending CAPSLO’s rules and penalties, Torres and Hill said at a SLO City Council meeting last year that homeless people need structure and management. After the meeting, former Councilman Andrew Carter said that the rule against being on Prado Road should be followed to discourage homeless from bothering business owners.



I would like to ask the CAPSLO Volunteers or employees that have been posting here if they have a copy or can get a copy of the written rules that apply to the disciplinary actions that are enforced by CAPSLO with regards to both shelters. If there is truly a process followed it must be in writing and available for the asking (I don’t think this is proprietary information as it pertains to public interaction)

I’m not going to hold my breath

From Disneyland

As Joe Public you can request a copy straight from Prado staff, however, be prepared to confront the powers to be as they will interrogate you as to what is your purpose for the request!! Let’s all go get us a copy!! Let me know if you still cannot get one, then perhaps a copy will be posted here!!! However, you will need an explanation on how to total up each rule that is broken. A homeless can break a rule in which the consequence will be just one-night out, or one day out depending on which facility in which the crime was committed. However, if you break more than one rule, it is totally possible that you might end up with 30 days suspension on your very first visit!! Kind of complicated system!!!!! But it still can be explained!!! Good luck getting your copy from a non-profit organization which is run with the “utmost” honesty, transparency, client and community friendly attitude!!


I’m going to go by there today…..I wonder if I’ll get banned for not going between the hours of 11:00 & 11:15. I’ll let you know how I fair with my request.



Now honestly is that snarky attitude necessary? Have you ever been there before to get suspended for breaking the rules? Anyone is allowed in during their operational hours.

Please do tell about your experience with tour request. Are the staff and volunteers you may have meet really as demonic as others will have you believe here? Where you given a hard time for asking for a copy of the rules?

I am glad that you are taking the initiative to experience first hand what it is like there.



My choice of words was not intended to be “snarky” I’m sorry if it was received this way. I wasn’t sure how I would be received when asking for a printed copy of the “Rules”.

Yes, I did go to the Prado Day Center and yes I was presented with a copy of the “Rules” as requested. My experience with the staff present at the time was very pleasant. They were kind and respectful and I did enjoy speaking with them. I expressed my compassion for the job they do on a daily basis. I will be going there again to ask questions and to better educate myself as to the processes and the people receiving services. I personally want to keep an open mind regarding the reported allegations and do my part to actively promote solutions if I can. It is my hope that if adjustments are identified, suggestions will be well received.

I cannot allow myself to rely solely on speculation any longer. IMHO, if there’s an issue lets all work on ways to make them better, constructively.

That’s my goal

NuVo, did I speak with you yesterday at Prado?


No Denny I was not, I was making that post based on reading your comment.

As far as making your own opinion based on your own experience that is all I can ask of the public here. There is so much mud flinging that goes on that as I see people are making up their minds based solely on one side here.

PS Sorry for judging your expression in the above post. It just played in my head as snide. Shows how important voice inflection is with conversation ;-)


Thank you NuVo.

Everyone here is very passionate about the topic of homeless treatment. The tough part is channeling that passion in a positive manner that promotes transparency and the transformation of a system that, on the surface is doing great work with good people working however there may be underlying changes that need to be made to better serve the complexities of today’s homeless community.


I’m glad your experience was positive, I’m sure staff know how to conduct themselves and are aware of everything going on. Im sure they want their program to thrive. Ms Torres herself would also present very personable and compassionate. I honestly believe the time for investigating and educating ourselves is past. The picture you will see now is what CAPSLO has painted. I don’t believe for a min the line staff aren’t great and care about the program, however they do not make the rules , but at the same time, they are forced to abide by whatever decisions are made. I believe there are changes that need to happen but it falls within the admin. not line staff!


Good for you.


Maybe I missed this but if someone is suspended from the day center at Prado, can they go to the night shelter for dinner? How do they meet with the case managers if they can’t go to Prado Day Center?

Reality Check

Interesting that CAPSLO seems to have commissioned staff / volunteers to post that all is well at the shelter and to confront anyone who brings up the abuses of the homeless. Good way to totally confuse the issues. I have always been in awe of CAPSLO’s manipulative abilities. Before we know it, all of us who know things are going very wrong at CAPSLO may be beaten back into silence. I hope not.


I agree with you, Reality. They are, I assumed, going to be careful about what they say, just so they dont throw themselves under the bus. I dont think they can wish this one away. It is a shame that the rest of the agency, who has an amazing dedicated staff, has to be shadowed by these allegations. There are alot of good people out there. They have done great things. I think that the public needs to remember that.


YUP, Adam Hill along with Dee and the CAPSLO board hired some PR media guns to prop up CAPSLO and trash CCN and its journalists. The add was on Craigs list a couple of weeks ago. Rather than deal with the truth, they’re spending tax $ that are intended for the homeless to defend themselves, their bogus numbers to garner gov grants and the misappropriations of gift cards and other donated items. The facts will all come out as more will be investigated than CAPSLO realizes.

Anyone here notice the new posters trying to spin the CAPSLO GAME as reputable? I think that CCN should see if some of these new posters have the same IP address.


Can you tell who they are?


Gosh, isn’t this game so fun?! I’ve got the perfect name: “Speculation!!!”


I myself like ” ursqurude ” oh Homer, this is fun!


I’d love to see that ad. Could you please copy and paste it here. Especially the job description where it says, “trash CCN and its journalists.” Dang, and I’ve been doing that for free. Just one more thought: I wonder how these posts have anything to do with the story? I’m assuming they will all be deleted.


I want to ask this. When all the hoopla started with Family Ties, and Case Management, Dee spoke up and tried to address what was factual and what was not. Then, all the regulars on ccn began bashing Dee. No one heard a word she said. She stopped answering. Then Biz Steinberg put out a statement, because she was out of town, fighting for Head Start. When it became obvious no one was listening they both became silent. The bloggers began to say they must be guilty, they are so silent. A couple of the fired staff became every bold and started flinging accusations. Still CAPSLO employees and volunteers remained silent. Now a couple of them are speaking out and you are saying they are trying to muddy the waters? Don’t you want to hear both sides? Don’t you want to use the critical thinking skills that you might have? Or do you want to be told what to think? Just saying, there are always two sides to each story.


If it were just a couple of fired staff that were flinging accusations, maybe, but have you read comments posted by other volunteers, community people that have posted what they know to be true, and most of all, the homeless themselves. Several former people who received services have made similar statements. Is there a reason you choose to not believe what they say? There are 2 sides to every story but when you have this many people talking I would think you too would be a little more objective in your beliefs. The statement CAPSLO made didn’t hold water because no one took the time to question what was being said, and of course Ms Torres will deny any wrong doing, it’s for these reasons a law suit is a good thing. The discovery process will bring everything into the open and expose who is in the wrong.



There are three sides to every story; his, hers and the truth. Yes Mrs. Torres did post in earlier blogs and she stopped. Yes, she was defending her position, agreed. The issue I have is that defending her position in a blog is one thing, defending herself openly, and in public by addressing the community would’ve been a better way of addressing the allegations. The fact that she asked folks to come to the shelter was a noble effort however do you think she would’ve shared her process of gift card distribution or shown that clients are NOT charged for items that were donated by others? I don’t think so. In truth this blog means nothing and does nothing but allow folks to ask questions of anonymous people in the hopes that they have answers however there is no way to confirm or validate the answers given.

Biz has a responsibility to the taxpayers whose money is being used to provide services to the public. If there was no wrongdoing and no previous complaints regarding treatment or mishandling of donated items then why has she not come out publicly to dispel these allegations? The buck stops with Biz, period.


I believe Biz is guilty of brushing aside everything she was told and not investigating before things came to where they are at now, but I also believe Ms Torres cleaned house of those who spoke against her. A department head can manipulate things and withhold information from their superiors as they are not involved in the day to day operations. The department manager controls what information is shared with the CAPSLO board, and bottom line- who will be believed? The person who appears to be on top of things and running a tight ship, or employees who were terminated, or the homeless whom are portrayed as mentally ill or substance abusers? Politics are deep and funding is contingent upon making everything right. So disposing of a few people here and there, not tracking some gift cards and donations, mistreating some homeless, heck those are all disposable compared to what could be lost; CAPSLO/ Biz let thing go too far, now it’s a matter of damage control and protecting the funding. Ms Torres just happens to fall into that mix, acting on things now would only destroy CAPSLO’s reputation. CAPSLO has passed the point of no return, they are going to have to watch how this plays out and in the mean time get a plan B ready to go, just in case.


Stay strong people want answers and those who have spoken out are the ones who will be able to make. Things happen! Stick to your guns and don’t let anyone force you into withholding what you know! When all is said and done you will be the ones to really help the most under represented population in our area! And if I sound like I believe what is written, I do! I’ve seen a sudden change in postings that have turned from questions and concern to comments that are hostile and apathetic. It sure feels like someone is applying the pressure in an attempt to intimidate. Things will come out in discovery as long as people continue to say what they know! Good thing a law suit has been filed!


It may be Adam Hill’s campaign PR group, which still apparently provides services, because they published an ad asking for people to basically massage public opinion to change public perception on an issue. I got the impression it would be message-board work.


Stunned, Erica was banned this time for taking her food and sharing it with someone who had been banned. Dee cast her out from shelter and food because the poor girl saw it in her heart to share with someone who was hungry. This are the rules they are having to s abide by. Besides it’s not really a hand out for most, they give capslo their social security benefits and in exchange they get food and shelter.


Just wondering how LAH knows why Erica was suspended? Even the authors of this story said that Erica herself, could not remember what she was suspended for this time?


Could it be the person she shared her food with? I’m sure they remember.



Are you saying that Erica was sharing her food with LAH? Is that true, LAH? Are you suspended from Prado? If so, LAH, what is your story? I haven’t ‘heard’ you mention your experience with Prado.

411 ON FOOD: Prado/People’s Kitchen gives out a bag lunch for anyone who is suspended at the gate in front of Prado. Not great but it beats hunger. There are other food sources in SLO, including, but not limited to God’s Store House, at the Grace Church, The Salvation Army, and Grass Roots 2. They all give out free food.


I said could it be? That was a question not a statement of fact! Did you see the little thingy at the end, looks like this- ? That is a question mark!


Oh, you mean the ‘thingy’ I used to reply to your statement?



From Disneyland

For clarity: The People’s Kitchen does not, I repeat does not prepare the sack lunches for suspended clients!!!!! Prado staff puts together one sandwich maybe a cookie, absolutely nothing to drink!!!!!! They make these “sack lunches” everyday no matter what, they do not know who will show up for a sack lunch, perhaps you might want to be at Prado Day Center at 11:00-11:15 a.m.and ask a client walking away with their sack lunch and asked them what they have in the sack lunch. Come on folks, let’s get the information correct. Ask any client who has been suspended, first, if they have gone to Prado and received their sack lunch. Second, who was their lunch?!!! You want answers, ask the right questions. Find out how each process really works. Do not assume!! You are Joe Public go to Prado and talk to homeless clients. Get informed, get knowledge!!!



You said;

“Our SLO homeless suspended clients are allowed a “sack lunch” if they can get to Prado Day Center”.

Maybe I missed something (wouldn’t be the first time)

QUOTING THE ARTICLE: “When a homeless person is suspended from services, that person is only allowed to enter the eighth of a mile zone surrounding both the day center and night shelter during one 15-minute time slot each day. If a homeless client wants obtain a print out of violations committed or acquire an application to re-enter services, the person must get in and out of the day center restricted area between 11:00 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. and the night shelter restricted area between 7:00 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. Failure to do so triggers an additional 30-day suspension.

If this is the case, how is it that a client can come by and pick up a sack lunch as you’ve stated they can? To me this would only generate additional time banned from services.

If you could please explain I would appreciate it as would the rest of us on the outside looking in.

Also, no one said that interacting with the homeless was an easy task. I have a lot of respect and compassion for those who can manage daily interactions with anyone who has mental issues, is depressed, lonely, has bad breath and uses offensive language.

From Disneyland

Ok Denny, let’s clarify regarding the 1/4 mile from the Prado day Center or the Maxine Lewis Night shelter. If a client gets suspended for any crime committed at either facility, they are totally restricted from coming near or around either place all day and all night. Next, in order to received that “sack lunch” the only time they are allowed/permitted to enter the domain of Dee’s Prado day Center is “exactly” between 11:00 and 11:15 a.m M-F and Sat/Sun. If they catch the suspended clientel “hanging” out before or after the 11:00-11:15 a.m. time slot, the suspended client will be slapped with another 30 day suspension for coming on to “property”. So now, if that same client persists to come every day before or after 11:00-11:15 a.m. they continue to be slapped with another 30-day suspension until that client requests to be “paneled” back into services. Dee Torres or Shawn Ison along with another employee will review the suspension and whether or not they are allowed back in. So this suspension can theoretically keep increasing from which it might have started out as a one-day, week, month, year, etc. just keeps going. Now a client can leave SLO County and be gone for 5 years then return and guess what that old suspension is still on the “books” forever. Now add to this the clients state of mind, mental abilities, disabilities, etc. their is no consideration of every starting over. If Dee or Shawn see fit to allow them back in under “their restrictions” and the client again gets suspended, all the old suspension are not wipe out but added onto all the “old” suspensions. Do you Joe Public understand this?? It’s a vicious cycle!!!!! I believe at one time Dee and Shawn were instructed to wipe all old suspensions off the “books”, but apparently, not since Erica has been around a very long time and is barred from services for her last crime of taking food off property!!!!!! I hope this helps you, Thank you.


Yes! You did

Thank you for explaining this process. For the life of me I cannot understand how this process is a way to positively discipline bad behavior. On the surface one would think that an alternative solution is out there that would best serve both the client who misbehaves and the Tyrant Torres.

We need to have churches and other organizations serving food and handing out items and stop this spiraling monopoly called CAPSLO. Diversity with the taxpayer monies as well.


So people suspended can only get lunch between 11:00-11:15? Can they eat inside during this 15 min time frame? That’s just nuts!

From Disneyland

Karma: Thank you for being super observant! Okay now suspended clients are only allowed to receive their “sack lunch” from 11:00-11:15 a.m. M-F and Sat/Sun, however, they must turn around and walk, ride, drive away from the Prado Day Center and be away from the “DMZ 1/4 mile”. Now let me ask every Joe Public reading this. Do you really believe a client who is mentally ill, sickness, disoriented, disheartened, depressed, just left a hospital, and abuse situation and hungry has any idea what a 1/4 mile is? What about a woman who has just walked from across town on Laurel Strreet, down Broad to South Street, to lower Higuera and finally to Prado Access Road with her children in tow (because she has no car, no money to buy bus tokens, and because she couldn’t do a chore to get a free bus token) can really know where this DMZ zone is at which “Dee Torres’s so raviously enforces? Where is it? Do any of you know? It is not marked anywhere around Prado nor the Maxine Lewis night shelter!!! Perhaps if Ms Torres really wanted to help homeless not get violated and barred from either facility, she would have the “1/4 mile posted all around the Prado Day Center and the MLM Night Shelter. I would think this would be the most humane way to point out to these unfortunate homeless that in fact the 1/4 mile is clearly marked. Perhaps homeless could then really be held to this “rule/policy/restriction”. How about it Joe Public, where is it? Let’s see where you all place your markers!!!!!!!


Disney, your explanation of the probable compounding banning rules are sickening to me. Because of the “Crime” of being hungry and possibly missing that time slot of 15 minutes to be within a 1/4 miles radius is beyond my hearts acceptance. IS there no forgiveness for Women with children or those without cars? What if someone is older and does not move so quickly? Or such as in Erica’s case when she has a disability?


However, if they are suspended from services for which their Social Security funds are being withheld, then they are being ripped off.


You are right it was not Erica’s Crime this time! To set the record straight, NO I am not a homeless person, nor am I the one that Erica shared her lunch with. And after re-reading the article I realized it was a past “Crime” of Erica’s that had her banned for sharing food prior to her Banning this time of the “CAPSLO CRIME” unmentioned. Just for the fact that Erica herself can not remember why she was banned this time should be a BIG Clue to CAPSLO that she needs some compassion from those whom have deemed themselves CAPSO RULE ENFORCERS. I am not against reasonable rules, just ones meant to bully and ridiculous for those with Mental disabilities to follow. Asking someone to show up within a 1/4mile for no longer than 15 minutes or banning them from sharing food is ridiculous. Especially when someone has special needs. You seem to know a lot about the shelters Truth Fairy DO tell why Erica was banned this time!

I am bewildered Truth Fairy, over your dismissal of employee and client testimonies? I do realize there are 2 (actually 3 the real truth) sides to every story, but I also seriously doubt that Dee would EVER admit any wrong doing. IF there had been proper responses to complaints this entire fiasco would have never gotten this far. Denying there was ever any issues is not a proper response! Thus the escalation to this point! Saying “We found issues and have taken action to correct them” would have been the smart thing for both Liz and Dee to do. Because of their denials it instigated these investigations into wrong doing. AND has us all in an uproar hoping for a complete overhaul of CAPSLO!

On a further note, Why in the world would they call Prado a Day Center if you are not allowed there all day?


Placement of my response is not where it is suppose to be! It was a response to Truth Fairy!


Erica not remembering why she was banned is a HUGE clue for CAPSLO to change how they handle people with Mental disabilities! I am sure though that CAPSLO is STILL taking her money.

My response to your other concerns are below. Not sure why this system placed it there when I clicked “reply” here!


CAPSLO does not provide this food. The food is provided by volunteers. I had a similar experience at the N County shelter when it was our groups turn to serve. The staff pointed out that they had placed a sign in the kitchen informing all food service volunteers not to give any clients tin foil. A client asked me for foil and I could see that he was attempting to hoard some food. At the same moment a staff employee also noticed that he had extra food, she took it away from him and threw it up on the counter and told us that no one was allowed to take any extra food out of the facility. It wasn’t CAPSLO’s food, it was our food, we brought it we prepared it we serviced it and I was incensed as the staff began to tell me that the man was trying to feed someone who had been thrown out of the shelter! She could see that I was angry and she went on to tell me why she was refusing food to the exile. I told her that I was there to feed hungry people and not to judge anybody. I took the food out with me when I left and the guy who wanted it asked me to put it in the back of a pick up truck that was about to drive by me. He said if they saw me give him the food for his friend that he would be thrown out too.

Since that time, I always walk up to a few homeless on my way into the shelter and ask if there are people who are thrown out and hungry. I tell them to let people know that I’ll be around the corner with extra food for their friends after we finish servicing and that’s exactly what I do.

I don’t care what they did wrong, it’s WRONG to withhold food from hungry people. Even Charlie Manson gets fed.


I am aware that ECHO is different from CAPSLO. However ECHO also refuses food to people who violate rules and they also refuse service to clients who give the exiles food. This is practiced by both shelters and it’s wrong.

As for the volunteers who provide food, the ECHO shelter diners are prepared by volunteers 365 days a year. As for CAPSLO’s decline in volunteer food service, I know they used to have it prepared by volunteers, I don’t know why that ended.


There is not a decline in volunteers covering the Maxine Lewis Shelter dinners, there is an increase. The shelter used to cover meals Monday-Friday. Volunteer groups have taken over Friday’s as well as weekends and holiday’s.


Interesting that little Atascadero has volunteers that cover the diners 365 days a year and the MLS only has volunteers that cover 3 days a week. Hummmm, wonder why more people aren’t willing to volunteer down there? It must be the shelter that is the problem because it certainly isn’t the hearts of the citizens. Little A-Town couldn’t be that different, giving and large hearted, could it?


Wow, really Cindy? Volunteers/donors/citizens are covering 3 meals a day in San Luis Obispo. Hot breakfasts (all donors/volunteers at no cost) and lunches under People’s Kitchen (365 days a year) at Prado. There are on average, 5-25+ volunteers at Prado every day, 10+ volunteers a night at the shelter, 5+ volunteers a night at the Overflow Program for the shelter. SLO community is doing a huge amount for 3 times the volume of clientele than ECHO. I’m really impressed and honored to be a part of all of this.


You certainly are defensive. Are you certain that you’re simply a volunteer without a dog in all this? I started out stating that it’s wrong to withhold food from hungry people and look where this has gone.

BTW, If you look at the reports, any report including those from CAPSLO, you will learn that there are an equal amount of clients served at both the N County and the ML Shelter.


I have to agree with you Cindy……very defensive indeed. Cindy’s comment was regarding withholding food for any reason, interesting how we get back to how fantastic CAPSLO is. How can you as a volunteer be proud of seeing folks that have no food and if someone has a heart and gives them some they are banned from services themselves or worse yet as a volunteer or employee you’re disciplined.

I don’t wish to bag on anyone who is doing good honest work, I will wait until the truth via discovery comes to light. Until then this blog has just gone south with the many attempts to confuse and attack any measure of truth.



So if you are aware they are seperate entities from each other then you must also be aware that you have lied in the statment that CAPSLO does not provide food. So it seems to me that you are trying to mislead the readers as well.

As far as defensive, yes I can get defensive when people like you are making false statements. My so called “dog” in this are the 120-180 people that other volunteers and employees serve on a nightly basis.

So I would appriciate if you could refer to them in a better manner.


LOL, Yes it was MY BAD to assume that since all the food at the ECHO shelter is provided by volunteers that it wouldn’t be equally true of the CAPSLO shelter.

I’m surprised that you’re a volunteer and are more concerned about the reputation of CAPSLO rather than concerned about hungry people who are refused nourishment.



By harming the reputation of the people providing a much needed service to the less fortunate, down on their luck, and fallen on hard times in this economy, you are a also hurting them as well.

What I am most concerned about is that we maintain these services out there for these people to have access to. There are several new faces in this environment on a weekly basis. CAPSLO gets bashed for wanting to make a 200+ bed facility to help these people you are trying to protect. Comments being made to say that funding for this much needed facility should be held back because of Dan Duval getting the green light again to move forward with his mission. There is room in this for both services to go forward. Dan has a great alternative service to offer that CAPSLO can NOT provide. I wish him well in hopefully getting back up and running. As it sits I have already stated that CAPSLO serves 120-180 people diners on a nightly basis, wouldn’t it be nice that they could also give them a place to sleep, as well as having a daytime operated facility on the same property?

These hungry people that are being refused nourishment as you put it have the ability to pick-up a sack lunch from the Prado location as well as getting free food from other organizations that Truthfairy mentioned in an above post. There are other resources out there.


QUOTING NUVO: “By harming the reputation of the people providing a much needed service to the less fortunate, down on their luck, and fallen on hard times in this economy, you are a also hurting them as well.”

You have it backwards.

It is CAPSLO and their rules which qualify as discrimination, IMO, who goes to great efforts to–for ridiculously picayune infractions of stupid “rules,” which may, or may not, be REAL rules, but just Dee’s “mother-may-I gotcha” rules–who seeks to withhold services from those whose portions of SS funds are wttheld for “case management” and other services.

So, when Dee’s CAPSLO rules withhold food from those they are supposed to feed and for whom CAPSLO is paid, it is CAPSLO harming the homeless.

And you can just can the “they can go to the Prado Center for a sack lunch” crap. Homeless people most often don’t have a means of transportation except for their own bodies, and the Prado Center is quite an unreasonable distance to expect homeless people to walk to, especially if they have to meet some ridiculous time limit, and especially if they are more prone to be harassed by SLO City police when they are out and about during the day.


NuVo, CAPSLO has systematically employed a decisive action over the years to monopolize the homeless services industry and garner the majority of all available funding afforded this genre of social services. Monopolizing this industry has clearly been their number one agenda and they have morphed into a conglomerate that is more about big business, high salaries, perks, cronies and status.

They’re too big and too concerned with funding to do the job that they’re touting. Half these executives aren’t even academically competent to hold their potions in my opinion and that includes the CEO. The people need more choices, a variety of providers and alternative services, not more CAPSLO, but choices can’t be accomplished with CAPSLO sucking up all the available funding.

Dan Duvaul is a drop in the bucket and is not considered worthy competition, they rather ‘need him’ as a token , a means of denial to the fact that they have accomplished their agendized monopoly. If Dan was qualified to compete with tax $ funding, they would pull their dirty strings with the BOS and shut him down, that you can take to the bank, in my opinion.

We all deserve better and we’re going to get it, mark my words.


QUOTING CINDY: “As for CAPSLO’s decline in volunteer food service, I know they used to have it prepared by volunteers, I don’t know why that ended.”

Just a guess—Dee had a crony she wanted to indebt to her, and so contracted it out. Considering the other allegations about fraudulent gift-card use, etc., a possible kick-back is not out of the question.

From Disneyland

Cindy: Charlie gets three square meals a day and his shower, but our SLO homeless suspened clients are allowed a “sack lunch” if they can get to Prado Day Center. Homeless clients have not been charged, tried, and sentenced by a court a law and found guilty of being absent-minded, depressed, lonely, alientated, sick, mentally unstable, dirty, offenses mouth order, etc.


I suppose this is better than nothing but it seems to me that if a person has problems with the rules then they will have a problem with a 15 minute time frame and all that is involved with getting in and out of Prado and 660′ away all with that 11-11:15 AM time frame. Many of these people who can’t follow rules are mentally challenged in some way. The shelter should be run by a competent individual who is academically sound in the realm of social services and the psychologically damaged /chemically dysfunctional.

Also adequate nourishment is a must for proper mental functioning and a baloney sandwich a day doesn’t cut it. Even the lowest of our society, as in murderers, rapist and child molesters are fed far better. There are certainly other measures that can be taken to correct those who are considered disruptive, such as making them eat outside at a picnic table. As for the majority of these rules, a simple monitor who is appointed to remind people not to walk up the drive way etc would be a reasonable solution, as mentally challenged homeless human beings are forgetful. Reward monitors with gift cars that are intended for them in the first place rather than deciding than they don’t deserve a free meal at a restaurant, or some new clothes from Ross or a toy for their child.

I can’t wait until this organization is revamped as the investigations reveal more facts, and that will come to pass, of that I’m certain.


QUOTING CINDY: “I can’t wait until this organization is revamped as the investigations reveal more facts…”

Here’s an appropriate quote from the Aliens 2 movie, regarding the alien-infested facility and its potential for becoming an infectious-disease vector of epic proportions:

“I say we nuke it for morbid. It is the only way to be sure.”

Seriously, there appears to be such pervasive corruption at CAPSLO, and the CAPSLO board is unwilling to do anything to correct it (indeed, they just harass those reporting the problems), I don’t think it can be resurrected as a clean facility.


And murderers, rapists, and drug dealers get a place to sleep at night, even if they assault an officer!!


The cover picture for this story pretty much says it for me. You’ve got many many able bodied adults lingering, begging, staying high or drunk and assuming the government owes them something. I do believe that a small percentage of the populace couldn’t help themselves off a paper plate and they’re the ones I love to help. It could be tomorrow….it might be you today…glad to help.

The rules? Adults removed from free food & services because they can’t obey a few simple rules? Good. They’re still being punished by authority and it’s that refusal to go with “the program” that’s caused many to unplug from society and forge their own path. Your inability to obey simple ideas and rules are a food chain issue….you simply allow someone to have YOUR spot as you beg at Circle K smoking cigarettes and sipping your 64 ounce drinks spiked with the flavor of the day.

As “the village” we need to wipe the entitlement slate clean and somehow get a better grip on the error of our ways! We’re hurting our people so much by breeding this entitlement mentality and it’s a huge nut to crack because we also employ thousands of people to administer these programs who typically come from entitled households to begin with.

Reality Check

Not sure what you’re saying, Stunned.

From what I’ve read and personally know, CAPSLO has a monopoly / strangle hold on the homeless services. That IMHO has created arrogance, mismanagement and draconian requirements and sanctions for people who need help to get that help.

I continue to advocate for CAPSLO to come to a more humanitarian point of reference for their management of the Day Center and Shelter. I also think that the governmental officials need to reduce the funding to CAPSLO and invite additional providers of service to help address the homeless problems. And none of us naive do-gooders should continue to donate blindly to CAPSLO!

Of course neighbors and businesses have problems accepting homeless in their yards and in front of their businesses. As I recall, the Day Center was promoted as THE answer to the panhandling and congregation of homeless downtown. How’s that working for the community???? Trying to shoe-horn all the homeless into one place during the day and one place during the night is so unrealistic. Better to have many places for homeless to get food and services.

The volunteer process works when it’s allowed to function from the natural goodness of people who what to help. The churches and others have made food and shelter available over the years. Those volunteer services that don’t demand the homeless to give them 50% to 70% of their income in exchange for the priviledge of getting a meal / a bed on a cold night have been hampered with regulations and lack of funding.

All of us who are concerned about helping in a truly realistic and humanitarian manner need to be supporting the volunteer services that don’t give high salaries and provide direct services to the homeless. Give that model a chance and we’ll all be surprised at the changes for the better.

From Disneyland

Reality Check: I agree with you in that CAPSLO should not have a monopoloy on the “homeless”. There should be “other” places where a sanctioned, barred, kicked out, punished homeless, etc.

can go and get at the minimum one meal per day and a shower. Seriously, how would any of us feel if we went one day without a shower or one meal?!! I just found out that St. Vincent’s who gives out sleeping bags, gas vouchers, etc. has now moved their offices over to Prado Day Center, which means that a suspended client tries to get a sleeping bag from St. Vincent’s they now “must” go get it at Prado which would mean another 30 or so more days of suspension both at Prado and the night shelter. What a pity! What is a “homeless” person to do once you have been barred from Dee Torres’ Day Center and Night Shelter? Any real suggestions? Alternatives? Good thing DuVual has settled his dispute with the county. Maybe his property can now be used as a sincere alternative location for some or part of the homeless population. I myself, if I had a large property like Mr. Duval, would like to be able to offer services to homeless!! Just saying……..


Has anybody notice employee comments on this site. Just askin….


Employee as in? CAPSLO, Cal Coast, or previous CAPSLO?


Capslo..someone is trying to “set the record straight”. Just an observation


Oh do you also think these allegations are false? I think there has got to be some truths because too many people have said the same things or close to the same. all of which are not good.


Hey karma, I not only think they are true but I know alot is true. I have an insight I dont want to reveal but there has been alot of wrongdoing. Alot


So that’s what you’re gonna say? If you have information, please report it to the authorities. Just making a statement here in this blog does nothing more than make everyone curious. Is that all you intended to do?

I’m not following you.


DennySLO, I’m almost positive I read in another post that Alaska has shared what they know with the reporter and others working on an investigation. Correct me if Im wrong Alaska.


FYI, I had to go back to another article to find this out.


Really? Please be more specific? What you are doing here is making people’s imaginations go wild. Did you see staff acting unfairly, did you see case management stealing from their clients, did you see them abusing clients, or did you observe them helping the clients, obtaining benefits, and getting medical attention, and assisting with housing? What ‘wrongdoing’, what ‘a lot of wrong doing’ did you see? What insight? Because what you are doing here is making the entire program sound like they are there to abuse the homeless? Did you ever see anything positive going on there? What gives?


I don’t think it’s making people’s imagination go wild, I just think it opens up more questions for both Alaska and Beachbum. Seriously, a statement from either could influence someone but for most of us, it’s going to take much more then a comment or two to feel at ease. There has just been way too much. I also should point out that everything I have read and heard about mistreatment of homeless is directed at Dee Torres. She is the one in charge and wrong doing normally falls on leadership. It’s how things work. I haven’t read anything about theft and other employees until Beachbum said some were terminated for having sticky fingers.


You know, there are these people who become “witnesses” to bad behavior.

In that way, to prosecute people who, for instance, have committed murder, every one of us doesn’t have to actually see it occur to have confidence in knowing it has happened.

The same with news publications…they interview witnesses and, if the witnesses comments pass their standard for publication, the news publications author articles in which the witnesses, and other information pertinent to the issue, are related to the reading public.

CCN has FAR more of a positive track record in this type of coverage–the coverage that advertiser-slaves at the Tribune won’t touch–than any other publication. I was going to say “LOCAL publication,” but, as of yet, only the biggest CCN publication news series have reached much beyond SLO and SB counties.

They certainly have more of a positive record than you do.

So I will continue to read and appreciate the information CCN publishes because I believe corruption would be far, far worse in our county if it was not for CCN.


Let me guess Stacey aka Alaska 64…..because you want to know if anyone from CAPSLO recognizes you. Yes, yes they do. You worked for CAPSLO/EOC then moved to Alaska. Is that what you wanted to know…if anyone recognized you? Nothing wrong with people who are employees past and present that are not disgruntled because hey..they didn’t get fired for things like partying with the clients or sticky fingers or incompetency….and would like to set the record straight for all the hard work that they do and have done. Just because someone doesn’t like one person and has their own personal dog in the fight..dosen’t mean you take everyone down. But then you have to work on honest facts and not hearsay. And there is a lot of bitterness /meanness and plain stupidity on this rag.


Not too worried about it. People have stuck their heads in the sand long enough. Your opinion on why this is what it is is just that, your opinion..more too come. This investigation is far from being done. As for people knowing who I am, I am not worried. Are you?….you obviously take a stance. Wait and see how it turns out.


Localbeachbum, your stating that those terminated were terminated for partying with clients, having sticky fingers, and incompetency? How would you have this information, and are you certain these are the reasons? Those are some pretty serious allegations. I think it’s important for readers to know. You’ve spoken out this much, might as well share what you know.


Allaska64, you have also shared what you know to be true and have also been called out by localbeachbum, maybe you can clarify what you mean by people sticking their heads in the sand long enough. Sounds like you also have information worth sharing with us. Let’s see which one of you can provide the most convincing testimony.


Yes localbeachbum, tell us your firsthand convincing testimony.

a lot of bitterness /meanness and plain stupidity, yes localbeachbum.

(lol somewhere a lawyer is giggling)


Localbeachbum, this is very sad! you sound a bit bitter. Hope things look up for you ( lawyers or not)


It doesn’t matter what Alaska64’s legal name is. It doesn’t matter if they were terminated from CAPSLO or if they are even a disgruntled terminated ex-employee.

It is the content of the material they publish (here, by posting) that matters.

There were MANY disgruntled ex-whitehouse workers during the Nixon Administration. Some of them ended up testifying at different committee and court meetings, and/or for publication in the media. What they said was the truth and was echoed by many other ex-employees.

Just because an ex-employee is unhappy with the treatment they received by the employer does not make their information without credibility.

Your guesses about Alaska64’s identity are just what they are…guesses. The fact that you are trying to “out” Alaska64, even if he/she is NOT who you say she is, is just reprehensible.


Thanks Karma2come,

Yes, I was on case management. No, I did not receive any gift cards. My biggest complaint is the drug use that goes on. I stayed at the family shelter which uses diff churches and was told drug and alcohol abuse are strictly forbidden there. There were many people high and drunk regularly who were staying with us and our children. When we complained nothing happened. We were told that Dee had an addiction problem in her past and she was sensitive to the addicts that came. While I believe that addicts also need help, I do not see why clean and sober families that need a safe place to stay are being placed in danger. One night a woman high on pills, who was exhibiting bizarre behavior, dropped meds on the flour as she kept passing out. The church staff called CAPSLO and someone came to get her but then brought her back about an hour later and said she was fine…these stories go on and on…I ended up taking what money I had and started staying in hotels as much as I could to keep my child away from there….


Sorry, that was to go under Karma2comes direct question to me


Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. It does seem unsafe to place persons under the influence in the same place where children are sleeping. IIt saddens me to hear your experiences were bad enough that you felt you needed to leave the shelter however, I’m glad you had access to your money so you could take your children and stay at a hotel. No one should be put in that situation. I could ask you a ton of questions but won’t. Just know I really respect you for caring enough to come forward and share your story. I pray your family is doing well.


Someone comes forward and shares real life experiences, and people have the nerve to put thumbs down! Wow you are truely without heart! I wonder who they could be?


Wow! It’s very detailed! I guess county jail will no longer be able to keep people in custody who do not have a home address until they appear in front of a judge. They will be able to be OR’d just like the rest of the population. That’s just one of many things I noticed!


Targeting by police for being in public areas is addressed as well. Make no mistake; any illegal activities in public areas should still be closely monitored by LE however they need to stop targeting these people just because they have nowhere to go. We (I’m referring to myself as well because it’s easy to say rather than DO) need to fix the root problem of homelessness and stop treating the results with ticketing and harassing treatment.

This brings me to a question that has been bothering me. Why do the clients get booted out at 7:30am and cannot return until 5-5:30pm?

Is this due to staffing? Can anyone please take a moment to answer this if they know?


Denny in regards to your question there is a statement that was made by slohomelessadvocate that happens to be on page 2 of this comment board. that is as follows:

The Good Neighbor Rules, that are specifically about not being in the area during non-operational hours, came together by the neighboring businesses and home owners with CAPSLO (then EOC) and other advocates in agreement when the shelter was trying to open in 1998 (this has nothing to do with staff having a fear of the clients). Clients are not to loiter in the area, panhandle, leave their vehicles in front of businesses/homes or bikes at businesses/homes when there is no staff able to attempt to ensure the neighbors are not being made uncomfortable. An interesting side note to this, Peggy Fowler herself was involved in the creation and enforcement of these rules during that time.

So, Yes it does have to do with staffing like you suspected. At the night time operated shelter there are no regular staff on duty to supervise the area. This is why the daycenter was created in 97 was to give them a place to be and where they would not be harassed by the police or others.


I apologize for my error. I meant when the night shelter opened in 1989, not 1998.

Reality Check

I drove by Prado Day Center yesterday and even during the day when the Day Center is open, I saw lots of homeless milling about on Prado and Higuera. I wondered the same thing, Why can’t the homeless stay longer at the shelter? Also, it’s a long way from the shelter back to the Day Center.

The logistics may have some origin that made sense in the past, but now, it looks very daunting for the homeless to be forced to bounce around from shelter to day center. Why can’t both facilities be open 24 / 7? That would provide more sleeping space and homeless wouldn’t have to walk from oneplace to the other.

Also that whole issue about the restrooms ~~~ people most often need to use the facilities before bedtime and upon awakening. To say that the restrooms are available, misses the obvious that the crush for using the facilities will occur for a couple of hours morning and evening.

The more this whole homeless situation is discussed, the more the situation screams for better management and a real overhaul.


Right off the bat, I noticed in paragraph 2 that it say’s people may not be discriminated against in the work place based on immigration status. I have a big problem with that. Could this indicate the intention to say that an illegal could not be terminated from employment if it was determined that they weren’t working here legally? I think it’s important to watch the spin regarding illegals in this bill.


I don’t believe that would override current laws regarding employment. I think the intention is to prevent any discrimination to any person regardless of gender, age, race, etc. etc,


A so-called “bill of rights” for homeless people made it out of committee in Sacramento today and if this bill passes, this will all come to an end as the homeless will have more rights then the rest of us. I suggest people read it on the Sacramento Bee, Capital Alert site. While I was totally against this bill at first, I totally understand the need for it now, after all I have read about our local issues and concerns and no one in power doing anything about it. San Luis Obispo will be powerless against the homeless if this passes.

I am really getting tired of all this name calling by the new posters, all the former employees being called liars (must be between 10 – 15 that have been named and no doubt that are many more saying the same thing over a 5 – 8 year period), volunteers that have spoken out, gift cards unaccounted for, homeless being denied food, their mail, blankets, and other services, others called out for their mental inabilities, harassment by the police,etc.

It is time for this to end,,, Let’s cut off the head of the snake, Biz Steinberg and Dee Torre must go so we can all get back to focusing on the needs of the homeless, which is what this is really about. Next, the next election get rid of all these politicians who bury their heads in the sand. Get a new, professional business CEO, not a home economics teacher and a AA graduate to run this $60 million organization and the Homeless Program.



Well, well, well.

And very good for DuVaul!!

The Supervisors have had a change of heart, and now DuVaul is competent to build a homeless facility on his property.

Makes me wonder if this turnabout is secondary to CCN’s fine coverage of the CAPSLO debacle, and the very unlikely probability that the public would stand for a second CAPSLO facility being built, especially with all of the investigations and once the findings start trickling in?

Reality Check

DuVaul at least let’s the homeless stay at his shelter just like they would in their own home. Come and go, do chores, stay sober, try to build a better life. If they can keep the area tidy, the neighbors should be pacified and the City has a more humane location for homeless to be helped.


Actually, DuVaul is located in the County (outside the City limits) unless the lines have been changed. That is why this goes before the BOS and not the City Council. It is interesting that the BOS, City, police, etc. have condemned this operation but County social agencies refer clients to them. Just shows, the big boys (and girl) don’t have a clue as to what works and the better place to go to get help and not just make the numbers to validate their jobs…


I think the City and its police force who harass and discriminate against the homeless should be charged with harassment.