Community Access Unlimited (CAU) was founded in 1979 in Union County, New Jersey with a $90,000 grant to move 20 adults with developmental disabilities from state institutions to the community. Community Access was first operated out of the Executive Director, Sidney Blanchard’s, Volkswagen Beetle. The agency soon moved into a small office and continued to grow.
In 1984, CAU added supports for youth in New Jersey’s child welfare system and parents with disabilities through the provision of supportive transitional living programs and educational training. In 1987, CAU secured its first housing units. In 1992, CAU moved to its current location at 80 West Grand Street in Elizabeth. Today, in addition to 130,000 square feet of commercial space, CAU owns more than 250 units of housing throughout Union County. CAU was one of the first nonprofits in the nation to pursue the federal low-income housing tax credit to acquire property.
CAU was founded as a social service movement to capture resources to build community support systems for all people living in need that live in the community. We see issues facing people with disabilities as community issues: safe and affordable housing, employment, social activities, political involvement and advocacy. To make an impact on these issues takes more than one person or agency; it requires community relationships to be built and sustained.