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  • Writer's pictureCatholic Ministries Appeal

Project Independence

Your donation to the Catholic Ministries Appeal allows Catholic Charities to provide affordable safe housing to senior citizens, people with developmental disabilities, and the poor and vulnerable. The love that is shared with these individuals is the love Jesus calls us to bring to one another.

We recently spoke with Christine Lai Director of Mental Health Services for Catholic Charities of Long Island.  Project Independence is a permanent housing program for people who are experiencing homelessness by providing rental subsidies and helping them locate appropriate housing for them in their community.  It also provides services to help people learn self-sufficiency and independence.

Individuals who are homeless, have a qualifying disability such as mental health condition and physical disabilities, substance abuse history, and living with HIV are eligible.  Project Independence opened in 2003 and celebrated its 20th Anniversary in August.  Through the years, it has been able to expand its program.  Initially, Project Independence started with 11 housing units and now it has 43 housing units. Unfortunately, although it can serve more people, there is a great need for housing on Long Island for the population of vulnerable neighbors.

Christine has shared some stories that have impacted her.  “People who come to us have a lot of things going on in their life.  This last year we had a new couple who was coming in for housing after living in the street.  Two days before Christmas, we were placing them in an apartment in Long Beach.  There was significant flooding in Long Beach and the streets were flooded and impassable.  Our clients would not be able to make it to their apartment.  Our Housing Counselor reached out to the landlord, and he was very helpful.  He sent a driver, appropriately named Angel, to get the couple and counselor.  He guided them to their new apartment.  After living in the streets, they didn’t have anything.  We were able to get donations from other agency programs such as Regina Services and got basic household items, such as dishes, towels, a Christmas tree from one of our offices so that the family was able to celebrate Christmas in their new apartment.  Even with the difficulty of getting to their home, all the people and pieces came together to help this couple in their apartment in time for Christmas.”

What makes Catholic Charities different from other Social Service organizations starts with its mission of sharing the love of Jesus with our poor and vulnerable neighbors and providing that care.  Its approach is to show people how significant they are, and the counselors bring comfort and support to them. 

The most important message Project Independence wants to get out to the community is that we are here to help people.  We want people to know that there is a place where they can get support.  We also need community support.  Through the years we have relied on Parish Social Ministries who have been supportive, especially during Christmas. Many people give their time, talent, and treasure so that we can provide help for people in need.

At Project Independence, “We revitalize the faith of those we serve by sharing the loving and caring we do with them. We are fortunate that we can live out the gospel by the way we serve others. The love we share with individuals is the love Jesus brings to one another.” 

Here are two other touching stories of clients who were served by Project Independence:

“I am proud to be a part of Project Independence. I now feel that I can stand on my own without relying on family. I feel like I am part of society, able to have a life to call my own. It is tough out there, especially on Long Island, but with their support, I do not feel ashamed. I would not be where I am without Catholic Charities and Project Independence.”

“Since I have a learning disability, it is difficult to have a job that fully supports myself and my family.  There were times that I lived with family members so that I would not be homeless.  I found out about Catholic Charities Project Independence and in 2003, I moved into my first apartment.  My Housing Counselor comes in monthly to see if I need any assistance. I feel blessed to be a part of this housing program. During rough times, I am helped and if it wasn’t for this program, I would not have a home of my own.  I was born and raised in the Catholic faith and I am comforted by having this care.


If you or someone you know are in need of Project Independence service, please call (516) 634-0012 ext. 128








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