Relocation of individuals with developmental disabilities can work

Top Quote People with disabilities can live fulfilling lives within the community. End Quote
  • Newark, NJ (1888PressRelease) April 01, 2015 - Raul Cruz Jr. has a new address. The 36-year-old with a cognitive impairment sits in his new home in Roselle watching television - whatever station he wants. His private bedroom is clean and comfortable and he comes and goes as he pleases. He walks the neighborhood each day and takes a trip into the community twice weekly, most recently going shopping at the mall.

    It is a far journey from Cruz's former residence, the Woodbridge Developmental Center, where he had lived since 1994. Raul suffered a head injury in an accident in 1987 and moved from his family's home in Jersey City to the center when he was 16. Like most members of developmental centers, he spent most of his day with other residents in a large room. Raul Cruz is just one of many to experience this positive transition.

    Sid Blanchard, CAU's executive director, founded Community Access Unlimited (CAU) 35 years ago with the mission of moving people with disabilities out of institutional living and into the community. Today CAU supports more than 6,000 people with disabilities who live in their own homes. Recently, Sid Blanchard, CAU's executive director wrote to The Courier News about this evolution, more than three and a half decades later, of individuals with developmental disabilities, moving from closing state institutions into community residences.

    His entire Letter can be read at

    More than 1,700 New Jersey residents lived in one of the state's seven developmental centers at the beginning of 2014. The Christie administration committed to closing two, Woodbridge and Totowa, with the intent of transitioning the residents to smaller community living settings, a move praised by many advocates for people with developmental disabilities, including CAU. Cruz was among the last to leave Woodbridge and joined 17 other former developmental center residents who have moved into CAU properties within the past year.

    Since 1979 CAU has been providing support programs and services to people with disabilities statewide and youth served under the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to enable them to live independently at home or in the community, in areas including housing, vocational and life-skills training, education, advocacy and recreation and in-home services. CAU owns and operates more than 250 units for residential living throughout Union County that are open to members of CAU and members of the wider community.

    About CAU
    Community Access Unlimited (CAU), marking its 36th anniversary in 2015, supports people with special needs in achieving real lives in the community. CAU provides support and gives a voice to adults and youth who traditionally have had little support and no voice in society. CAU helps people with housing, life skills, employment, money management, socialization and civic activities. CAU also supports opportunities for advocacy through training in assertiveness, decision-making and civil rights. CAU serves more than 6,000 individuals each year. For more information about CAU and its services, contact us by phone at 908.354.3040, online at or by mail at 80 West Grand Street, Elizabeth, NJ 07202.

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