Will Bridgeport Bite the Hand that Feeds its Poor?
By Ken Von Kohorn, Chairman
Family Institute of Connecticut

The Bridgeport Rescue Mission is a faith-based charity that helps the poor in both body and spirit. Working out of the Fanny Crosby Memorial Home on Fairfield Avenue, the mission offers food, shelter, long-term drug rehabilitation, and recreational programs for youths that might otherwise have nowhere to go but the street. Importantly, the Rescue Mission also offers spiritual sustenance -- Bible Clubs, Sunday School, and chapel services.

On Monday evenings the Rescue Mission’s Mobile Soup Kitchen travels to South Street to distribute a weekly hot meal. The food is donated from nearby restaurants or bought with donated funds. Before the van dispenses its food, the crowd gathers into a circle, and a pastor says a grace. The food is then distributed and any donated clothing is placed on tables.

The people that partake of their Monday meals appreciate the caring they get from the Mission staff and feel a sense of community – right there on the street. Many of these people are homeless, some with kids. Yet they can look forward to holidays, when the van brings special treats for children. Will the Mission continue indefinitely bringing food to the homeless and care for their spiritual needs?

Surprisingly, not if the City of Bridgeport has its way.

The city claims that the Mission’s shelter is “housing” in the property tax sense of the word. They want the Mission to pay taxes going all the way back to 1996 -- $300,000 in all, including penalties and interest.

But the Mission is a breakeven operation, a charity surviving month-to-month solely on donations. Furthermore, there is no endowment or cash reserve. If the City’s case is upheld by the courts, the City will foreclose on the Memorial Home, seize the Mission’s property, and force it to close its doors. The Bridgeport needy will receive far fewer meals and have no access to shelter at the Fanny Crosby Home. The men's drug rehabilitation program -- with its spiritual comfort of Bible studies and Mission prayers -- will cease.

The City should give up its misbegotten quest to foreclose on the Memorial Home. Please get in touch with us at info@ctfamily.org, or toll free at 877-33-FAMILY, so that we can tell you how you can help – not with cash donations – but with a simple telephone call or a letter. We will coordinate efforts to awaken caring citizens of Bridgeport, indeed of Connecticut – and make Bridgeport citizens and the state legislature aware of this impending tragedy. If we act in concert, there may yet be time to save the Fanny Crosby Memorial Home and to maintain the Bridgeport Rescue Mission at full strength – so that they can continue helping the needy people of Bridgeport.

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