Dee Torres-Hill competes with CAPSLO while still on its payroll

March 26, 2015
Dee Torres-Hill speaking on behalf of CAPSLO.

Dee Torres-Hill speaking on behalf of CAPSLO.

By KAREN VELIE and DANIEL BLACKBURN

Months before Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County (CAPSLO) demoted Dee Torres-Hill from her position as its homeless services coordinator, she was soliciting donations for a new homeless services organization from wealthy developers who were dealing with her husband, San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill.

Hill, in turn, lobbied on behalf of developers donating or pledging to support Torres-Hill’s fledgling nonprofit, called the SLO Housing Connection. The SLO Housing Connection provides homeless services that appear to duplicate many CAPSLO services, including case management, shelter and employment services.

Gary Grossman

Gary Grossman

In fall 2014, while Supervisor Hill aggressively attempted to persuade members of the San Luis Obispo City Council to vote in favor of a land use change needed by developer Gary Grossman to develop large parcels near the airport, Grossman made a $50,000 donation to Torres-Hill’s SLO Housing Connection, Grossman said in a letter sent by his attorney Marshall Ochylski . The council then voted 4-1 in favor of the airport land use change.

Torres-Hill is still employed by CAPSLO and is performing many of the same duties she had at CAPSLO for the SLO Housing Connection. She is on medical leave from CAPSLO. A doctor determined she was unable to continue working at CAPSLO, according to court records.

The lawsuit claims that CAPSLO retaliated against Torres-Hill because of her perceived disability.

Supervisor Adam Hill

Supervisor Adam Hill

In 2012, former and current CAPSLO employees and several of Torres’ ex-boyfriends said she routinely took gift cards intended for the needy and homeless for her own use. At the time, CAPSLO administrators denied most of the allegations, but admitted to questioning Torres-Hill about selling items donated to the homeless and not accounting for the revenue.

CAPSLO officials now have completed their investigation into the allegations, but will not comment on their findings because of the lawsuit.

On March 12, 2014, CAPSLO demoted Torres-Hill and cut her pay, in what was announced as a “restructuring” because of financial concerns. Torres-Hill then took a leave of absence. On June 2, 2014, Torres-Hill returned to CAPSLO, according to court records.

Former employees of CAPSLO say Torres-Hill had threatened several times over the past decade to start her own homeless nonprofit with the assistance of supervisor Hill, and to battle CAPSLO for revenue and county-approved grant monies.

On Oct. 2, 2013, the SLO Homeless Connection’s Facebook page was born.

The new nonprofit board includes President Mary Parker, Treasurer Antonette Higgins, and Torres-Hill’s 20-year-old daughter Sofi Torres. According to the SLO Homeless Connection website, Sofi Torres “has volunteered with the homeless for 15 years.”

And though the site does not identify any SLO Housing Connection staff, Torres-Hill appears to be the only one meeting with clients.

In early 2014, developer Grossman was asked to tour the Prado Day Center, he said in an email to CalCoastNews. Shortly thereafter, he started meeting with Torres-Hill and Parker to discuss donating to the SLO Housing Connection.

Neither Hill, Torres-Hill nor Parker returned detailed requests for comment.

On Oct. 28, claiming to be a whistleblower, Torres-Hill filed a lawsuit against CAPSLO that says her employer retaliated against her for expressing safety concerns. In addition, the lawsuit says that CAPSLO retaliated and discriminated against Torres-Hill based on her disability. The disability was not explained.

SLO Homeless Connection Treasurer Antonette Higgins has denied getting any donation from Grossman.

“We have had only one donation of $1,500, only one from a Christmas mailer,” Higgins said. “My sister-in-law is county counsel, so we know what we are doing.” (San Luis Obispo County Counsel Rita Neal said she is not related to Higgins.)

At present, Higgins said, no one affiliated with the SLO Homeless Connection is getting paid to work for the nonprofit. Higgins did not appear to be concerned about Torres-Hill’s work for the SLO Housing Connection while on medical leave from CAPSLO.

“What she does on her own time is her business,” Higgins said.

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Jorge Estrada

These allegations and their resolve may some day change the tax code from allowing the deductions for donating to non-profits with paid staff. All non-profits should be very concerned about the bad apples in their barrel. Personally, I prefer donating to non-profits that do not pay their staff. As donations are voluntary, volunteers should manage the organizations with non-profit status to avoid being colored an industry that the taxpayers are funding, similar to paying Gov to do what you should be doing for yourself.


kayaknut

Such as the CEO of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Nancy Goodman Brinker, the sister for whom the foundation is named, has annual compensation up to $684,000 per year, disgraceful and should be criminal. The United Way is just as bad.


Dave

Now in contrast, here’s a real homeless advocate at work, one probably more deserving of funding. From today’s Tribune:


“A bouquet of miniature roses is en route to Becky Jorgeson, who is working to establish a San Luis Obispo community of small, mobile housing units for homeless people. A prototype was recently on display at Home Depot; the small, attractive cabin contains a bed, a desk and closet. No bathroom — the idea being to cluster the small houses around a central common house that would include bathroom, kitchen and laundry facilities. The nonprofit that Jorgeson founded, Hope’s Village, is trying to find about five acres in the San Luis Obispo area for the cluster of cabins. Ideally, Jorgeson is hoping someone will donate land or offer an inexpensive, long-term lease.”


And Becky is doing all this without being married to a county supervisor!


OnTheOtherHand

Best wishes for her if she can pull it off but I doubt it. Dealing with homelessness is not a simple or easy thing to do and ideas that sound good don’t often work in the real world. If she can avoid dealing with some of the “worst” elements among the homeless, she may have a chance.


IronHub

Wonder how long before Hill spins out an angry, blame-everyone-else, rambling diatribe about this in his back-pocket newspaper, the increasingly irrelevant Tribune?


TacomaRose

The article states:


“Torres-Hill is still employed by CAPSLO and is performing many of the same duties she had at CAPSLO for the SLO Housing Connection. She is on medical leave from CAPSLO. A doctor determined she was unable to continue working at CAPSLO, according to court records.”


If this is true and if she is still being paid by CAPSLO wouldnt this suggest workman comp fraud?


The article states:


“The new nonprofit board includes President Mary Parker, Treasurer Antonette Higgins, and Torres-Hill’s 20-year-old daughter Sofi Torres. According to the SLO Homeless Connection website, Sofi Torres “has volunteered with the homeless for 15 years.”


If Dee Torres’ daughter started volunteering with the homeless 15 years ago that would make her 5 years old. Sounds like some embelishment going on here.


Ugluk

What’s her disability – kleptomania?

If ever two people deserved one another, it’s Adam & Dee. Their exes are probably the happiest people in the happiest place on earth every time one of these stories breaks.


tidepool

LMAO!!!!!!!!


agag1

Dee Torres does not appear to be disabled as she parades about with the bigger umbrella in the photo above.

I realize that not all disabilities are physical, but from looking at the picture above she clearly DOES NOT appear to fit the definition of what many would consider ‘disabled’.


If I were a worker’s comp attorney I would be extremely interested in knowing the date that photo was taken.


tidepool

Dee Torres disability is Adam Hill. When she bottomed out and lost her reputation because of Cal Coast News excellent investigative news story on her, she was so desperate and vulnerable she actually married Adam. Ironically, they deserve one another. I hope someone with more ethical skills will help the homeless in our community. The homeless do not need someone lacking in moral character and having sticky fingers overseeing their best interests.


fhill123

Dee Torres the ultimate role model for a self-serving person.


pasodowny

Oh yes, please let me donate to Dee! Let me donate to her good cause, the one called, Me, Myself, and I.


Given Dee’s troubled history at CAPSLO, her gift-card sticky fingers, her penchant to file lawsuits that she eventually loses but still cause others to waste time and money of others, I have to say, HELL NO!


justbeware

Thanks, Karen and Dan, pretty sure we won’t be seeing this story anywhere else.

Keep casting the net CCN, plenty more fish where these came from!