Disabled homeless man denied bed by CAPSLO

June 28, 2013
Jeffrey Stone and service dog Boomer

Jeffrey Stone and service dog Boomer


The Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo denied a disabled homeless man a bed at its shelter last week because he was accompanied by a service dog.

Even though California law requires service providers to allow equal access to individuals with guide dogs, San Luis Obispo native Jeffrey Stone needed police intervention in order to obtain a bed at the Maxine Lewis Memorial Homeless Shelter.

Stone, who recently returned to San Luis Obispo from Arizona to feel more at home, first attempted to secure a bed at the shelter approximately two weeks ago.

But, shelter manager Della Wagner denied him a bed and demanded that he leave the property, saying that CAPSLO policy does not allow for service dogs in the shelter.

Stone returned soon after, and requested to eat dinner at the shelter. Wagner allowed him to eat, but not to stay the night, and demanded to see proof that Stone’s dog indeed had service status.

California law prohibits service providers from demanding verification of a dog’s service status. Stone still provided Wagner a letter he received from a clinical therapist stating his need for the dog.

Wagner then allowed Stone to eat, but not sleep, at the Maxine Lewis Shelter for the following few nights.

On June 17, Stone again requested a bed and again was denied. This time Stone contacted the San Luis Obispo Police Department, and three officers responded to the shelter.

After meeting Stone, the officers told him it was time to “reeducate” the shelter staff. The officers then discussed the matter with the CAPSLO staff, and Stone received a bed.

“They treated me like a decent human being, and it blew me away,” Stone said. “All three of those guys were absolutely wonderful.”

Wagner told CalCoastNews that she made the decision to deny Stone the bed, but that she could not comment on the matter without approval of CAPSLO’s Homeless Services Director.

Homeless Services Director Dee Torres said she could not comment on the matter because it involved confidential client information and she had not seen the police log.

Torres did say, though, that CAPSLO’s service animal policy states that guide dogs must behave properly and “be harnessed, leashed, or be under voice, signal or other control.” She did not indicate whether or not CAPSLO policy prohibits service dogs from spending the night at the shelter.

Since the police intervention, Stone has stayed at the shelter. However, he faces an ultimatum.

CAPSLO has told him, like other clients, that he must enter case management and turn over approximately 70 percent of his income in order to secure a bed in the shelter beyond his first month of staying there. If Stone does not do so, he must enter a daily lottery for a chance to stay the night.

Stone said that if he chooses to enter case management, he has the options of paying CAPSLO in money orders or cashier’s checks or arranging a direct deposit of his money into the nonprofit Family Ties.

Family Ties is currently under federal investigation for keeping more of a former CAPSLO client’s money that allowed by the Social Security Administration.

Stone receives about $970 each month in Social Security Disability Income, for which he qualified because he worked long enough in the past and paid Social Security taxes.

Agreeing to enter case management would leave Stone approximately $300 to live on each month. Likewise, there is no guarantee CAPSLO will get him into housing. Often clients have remained on case management for multiple years without attaining permanent housing.

Stone previously worked as a general manager for truck stop restaurant chains. Doctors have diagnosed him with scoliosis, as well as several psychological disorders.

Prior to moving back to San Luis Obispo from Arizona, Stone had arranged to rent a room. However, the agreement fell through upon arrival, and he ended up homeless. Stone travels everywhere with his service dog Boomer.


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To remind readers again of how the system “works”; you get in the neighborhood of $700/mo SSI, this is a federal welfare program that is administered by the Social Security Administration. The money comes from Treasury funds not the Social Security trust fund. In a strange exercise of common sense, the government decided NOT to establish a new federal agency when the program began in 1974 because the Social Security Administration already had all the tools to do the job. You can either fry your brain or deliberately get fired from every job, or more rarely be legitimately disabled, and you get $700 for life no questions asked. Your remaining funds are Social Security benefits as a function of how much you paid into the system. $970 total is a common number. No taxes, full medical included, and free food as you can get it, frequently from private programs supported by well-meaning people who are under the impression you have no money at all. Keep this in mind when you see the panhandlers – they have $700+/mo already and many of them do very well by the stop sign in the parking lot. If you get into Section 8 housing you pay 30%, but like all rental housing there are some rules and you can be evicted for not following them, and it’s 30% of your cash. Me, I’d work the system just like Mr. Stone, get all additional services you can but give up none of your money or freedom. I don’t care for CAPSLO’s non-transparency and $60,000,000 in taxpayer money we don’t get to know anything about, but I also don’t care for people who spend a lot of time and show intelligence and ability in working the system, but not working. Disabled people can and do work. They may not be loading trucks or finishing concrete, but that’s not what I do anymore either.

What will you do should you fall and break your back, and end up with nerve damage from your neck to your feet? As a result, you cannot stand long, sit long, nor even find a comfortable position to lay down long? How will you work then? The nerves in your neck just happen to affect your fingers as well. So much for a computer job. You try to live off of SSI. You try to pay the rent, the bills, car insurance, car maintenence, not to mention gas, and buy food for the whole month! Scoliosis is a curvature of the spine, and depending on the severity of it, can cause anywhere from minimal pain to a great amount of pain. Just because someone has scoliosis, does not mean the person has to be bed-ridden, or walk like a cripple for people to believe that the person is disabled, or even in a great amount of pain. Let an accident happen to you, so people can judge you and accuse you of being a liar!

Working the System? No, the system worked me. My diagnosis, no matter in what order it came or what the overriding factor was, was shared by both my doctors and the ones that the Social Security Administration sent me to. I sat through a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge, and being arbitrarily denied twice in 3 years, who heard the written testimony of 11 doctors, 4 of which were assigned by SSA, who said I could not work. He also heard the verbal testimony of a Vocational Rehabilitation expert, SSA’s expert, who testified that I could not work in any field or in any capacity more than 20% of a typical 40 hour work week. He denied my application. His reason; because the doctors that the SSA assigned could not have come up with an accurate diagnosis in just one visit, even though this is all SSA allows, and that my doctors were clearly acting as my advocates (isn’t he or she supposed to be your advocate?). Finally, a year after the ALJ’s decision a United States Appeals Court heard my case and ruled in my favor. After 4+ years of being denied what I deserved, what I worked very hard for, it took almost 9 more months for my benefits and back-pay to come through. I lost everything. I don’t receive SSI, if that really matters, I receive SSDI, something I worked long and hard to qualify for. For you to say that I gave up nothing while gaining much only goes to show the ignorance of the one sided conversation you must have had with yourself before posting your comment. I feel sorry for you, I really do; it is your type of disability that perpetuates this ignorant view that is attached to the vast majority who are disabled, a view that only makes things worse and does nothing to cause change. Take care.

Your “wall of text” was interesting enough to read through. Too bad you ruined your credibility with the talk about “CAPSLO’s non-transparency and $60,000,000 in taxpayer money we don’t get to know anything about.”

Most of that money is specified for Head Start programs and the various funding sources (Federal and State gov’t mostly) track it quite well. Less than 10% (maybe 5%) is for Homeless Services because funding for the homeless just isn’t as attractive as helping disadvantaged children or their struggling parents or even providing energy-saving assistance to low-income elderly people.

In the grand scheme of things, a “service dog” is cheap.

Yea, you have your malcontents that claim a disability and have a “service dog”, but that can be with dealt with reasonable instruction/policy and be dismissed.

For CAPSLO to have a policy of “NO SERVICE DOGS” that is in a service for a client base that has a high propensity for mental illness and disabilities that require a service dog doesn’t say much for its leadership.

…especially when they are in control of a Clients funds….what do you need a few thousand dollars a year for some kibble, crates and some common sense protocols??!!!! Yes, I realize CAPSLO is a providing an awesome service, but the Federal and State ADA guidelines should be relative common knowledge for staff and those directing activities./////

The last thing our society needs is to feed lawyers low hanging fruit.

While I am sure that there are many sincere individuals working to their abilities to help the homeless, the fact remains that CAPSLO is a bureaucracy … with layers of red tape that boosts the costs, and at least some functionary pencil pushers and seat polishers that are in protected civil service positions.

It would be alot different, if it were a non-profit. The big question then would be funding … and who makes those decisions.

What if they were like a school and got paid by the number of students?, so for CAPSLO they only get money if they actually help a person, but of course it would have to be an outside group that determines if they actually help a person, but at least when it came to meals they only get paid for meals they serve and of course that has to be verified by an outside group, because of course CAPSLO would not fudge the numbers.

Legally, CAPSLO is a non-profit. Practically speaking, it’s Homeless Services Program is most definitely non-profit. The bureaucratic nature of the organization could be somewhat accurate though.

Also, the meals are provided via donations and (mostly) served by volunteers — many from other community groups such as churches.

The ignorance of the basic facts about this organization by many slamming it on this website is disturbing. I don’t know that all the accusations are baseless but it makes me suspicious when so much other ignorance is displayed while painting with a REALLY broad brush.

I believe that CAPSLO is a non profit. However, SLO County has been giving CAPSLO more and more authority and funding for County social service programs better run by the County.

CAPSLO is an entrenched bureaucracy and the politicians in the City and County keep throwing more programs and more funds at CAPSLO. CAPSLO can spin a seemingly believable tale and provide incentives like expensive trips and board membership to politicians to grease the skids to achieve CAPSLO’s desires to keep a monopoly on the funding for services. CAPSLO is too big and too corrupt. They get more corrupt and more arrogant with the addition of more money and programs showered on them by our elected politicians.

The really sad part: The people in need suffer while CAPSLO thumbs its nose at their clients and the public. Mr. Stone is just the latest example of mistreatment stemming from draconian rules and lack of compassion to come to the attention of the public.

From an article about people misrepresenting dogs as service dogs in the bay area.

“A service animal has to be individually trained in specific tasks that benefit a disabled person. An emotional or support animal is such because the presence of that animal provides security. If it’s their mere presence, if that’s all they’re doing, that doesn’t meet the requirements of a service animal,” said Si.”

Yep, it is my view too. I knew a woman who had a dog that was not trained in any specific way but did act as an emotional support animal. Fortunately, it was a good little dog and didn’t cause problems for others. However, that woman got pretty upset when anyone failed to give it the privileges of a service dog.

At some point, compromises should be considered depending upon the circumstances. Unfortunately, bureaucratic institutions tend to avoid compromises. This is partly because individuals are afraid to take risks no matter how slight (a policy frequently encouraged by management.) It can also happen because allowing exceptions to one person can result in others demanding them and long arguments as to whether or not they deserve them.

A legitimate service dog should be allowed any place it’s owner needs to go. I do have a question though. Many homeless people appear to have dogs…how do they care for them? I don’t have a dog at this time but when I did I found out that dog ownership is rather expensive. Is there a free doggie clinic or something? and what about food? just wondering.

In answer to Rambunctious: Not all homeless people know they are going to be homeless. When they become ill, lose their job, and their housing, they have a choice. They can either take their animal to the pound, because Woods is usually full, or they can try to care for them. Some find a few choice vets who will let them make minimal payments, because they love animals, (the vets), and some have to go without.

Then there are the ones who get a dog, later. I just read a letter from a therapist who told a man he needed a dog to walk so he would lose weight. Does this make the dog a service animal, legally? Don’t know, but it is trained to walk and the man is disabled.

So, everyone who is fat is disabled? Then they should all get disabled parking plates and placards. This will allow then to park closer to their destination, walk less and get fatter.

What a wonderful system!

Everytime you hear about CAPSLO and their dirty antics and how they treat people with a dog is so

disgusting! Who hires these people to run theses shelters! This Della Wagner sounds like a nurse

Ratchet………..who has no empathy towards humans let alone homeless ones! Yah, what a burn on

nurse Ratchet those officers pur her in check,she should be embarressed and humiliated down to

her crooked toes!!!!!!!


the point really is, Why wasn’t MS Wagner properly trained by her boss Ms. Torres in what are the exceptions for animals?? To just refuse him service without knowing policy is unacceptable. Why is Ms. Wagner ignorant of the policies and given authority to refuse services? IF she is unaware of policy it is irresponsible for Ms Torres to place Ms Wagner in that position. She is an untrained employee improperly placed. Which to me shows the incapability of management.

THE OTHER Serious issue, why in the world would they demand Case Management while Family Ties, aka Case Management is under investigation for negligence???? IS there NO sanity within the CAPSLO group? Why has NOT one on Capable CAPSLO Board Member stepped up to resolve these issues?? Where is the Resolve for all your issues CAPSLO?? they will NOT just go away until one of you actually steps up and makes it right!!

As any none dog owner will tell you, Not everybody’s dog is cute. I, for one have a healthy disrespect for dogs, having been viciously attacked more than once.

My special pet peeve is Home Depot and now even Lowe’s animal policy. I purchased a bath sink cabinet from a local hardware store. My employees installed it. The next morning my client complained of a strong urine smell on the cabinet. You guessed it a dog had relieved himself on the cabinet while still at the store. That was one expensive lesson for me. I no longer buy products from any store that allows dogs.

I’ve never had a bad experience with a dog. Makes me wonder why dogs don’t like you or sense that you need to be eliminated. ? Guess you had better not go shopping because service dogs are allowed in every store. Even if you buy Online, the company you buy from probably has a nice dog hanging around. You are SOL.

topper01 says:”My employees installed it. The next morning my client complained of a strong urine smell on the cabinet.”

Your employees installed it and never noticed or did not care and you blame the store for your expensive lesson?

Also you bought a demo, out of box (saved some $) and did not check to see if it was ok.

Not everyone has an equally good sense of smell. Mine is not great on some smells but pretty good with others. I know some people who have very acute senses of smells and can be offended by odors that most people strain to notice if they can notice at all.

That said, yeah, if you are buying something out of the box for installation in a customer’s home, it is your responsibility to give it a reasonable check-over.

topper01, you might have had a bad experience with dogs, because they can sense who has a dislike for animals. As far as a dog relieving itself in that cabinet, sounds like it was the owner’s fault. Just like when kids relieve themselves on the carpet in a house or apartment they are renting. Kids have a brain and know when they are doing wrong. If there’s one thing I hate, is those who hate animals.

I was attacked by a shepard as a small child. I was terrified. I was bitten by cats and developed such an infection that I nearly died…twice! I do not at all have a fear or a “healthy disrespect” for any animal, for as I see it, it’s people who should be called animals. You have obviously never experienced the friendship an animal can bring you.

Della Wagner got smacked down, and I’m loving the PD for that. I wonder how many of these workers take on a god complex. I’m sure they deal with some difficult situations, but they need to remember they are no better and that they need to learn to bend the rules. Of course in this situation Della needed to learn the rules.

I don’t know about a “god complex,” but certainly some of the workers sure seem to have embraced the *itch-on-Wheels” complex.

Maybe we can book y’all on Jerry Springer. Sounds like there’s some serious inside-baseball going on. There is no waste in “government” when you contract government services to a “private” non-profit.

I love the last part. Agree to enter into an agreement to let them control your money. Yea we all have seen how well that works. CAPSOL and all of you associated with it, should be ashamed of yourselves.

I tend to disagree on how well we have seen anything. We have seen reports about a few homeless individuals telling their side of their experiences with an agency trying to help with a difficult population. The other side is never represented at this site. Looking at “You may also want to read” might explains why they don’t participate. I’m waiting or Darrell Issa to show up here soon.

I agree that if one person, then I say, well………..but when it gets to multiple?

This same thing happened with Gearhart. At first I was inclined to say well………but then as more and MORE people came forward. We all see how that ended.

You know the old saying, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Well I’m starting to see quite a bit of smoke.


slomike says: “I tend to disagree on how well we have seen anything. We have seen..”

Lets be clear “You” do not see for anyone else ever, stop trying to multiply your feelings with words.

You get one vote, just like the rest of us.

Everybody is a moderator. I was using my royal “we”. Sounds like the petty rulemaking of a self-designated homeless shelter supervisor.

Darrell Issa is going to show up to support CAPSLO? Save me a toke man.