ELIZABETH, NJ - Community Access Unlimited (CAU) has received a total of $27.5 million line of credit from Valley National Bancorp. Of that, $20 million will help finance CAU’s growth and $7.5 million is for a owner-occupied construction-to-permanent mortgage for the agency's new office, according to Sid Blanchard, CAU executive director.

Community Access Unlimited is a statewide Elizabeth-based nonprofit providing support programs and services to adults with disabilities as well as youth served under the Department of Children and Families to enable them to live independently in the community, in areas including housing, vocational skills and life-skills training, education, advocacy and recreation. The organization recently opened a facility in Fanwood.

CAU is a unique from other nonprofits in that through its business model it has achieved financial independence and does not rely on government funding. CAU has more than $40 million in assets and less than $2 million in debt.

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The agency owns more than 250 units of affordable housing throughout Union County, comprising apartments, condos, single-family homes, duplexes and townhouses, all privately financed. Many are mixed-use properties, providing an additional revenue stream to support and enhance CAU’s service capacity.

"This financial independence, very unusual in the nonprofit sector, allows CAU to operate free from the constraints that often come with public funding, enabling us to pursue the interests of our members more efficiently and effectively," Blanchard said. "Our partnerships with private sector lending institutions are essential for us to enjoy this financial success."

“We have been able to customize creative banking solutions for a number of nonprofits throughout our footprint,”   said Mwaura Muroki, Valley National Bank vice president. “We enjoy a long-standing relationship with CAU and remain committed to supporting their mission to provide services for individuals with special needs throughout New Jersey.”

Blanchard founded CAU in 1979 with a $90,000 grant and the mission to move people out of institutional living and into the community. Today the agency serves more than 6,000 members throughout the state.

Valley National was honored by CAU at the agency's 2015 Gala with the Ira Geller Award for the Financial Literacy Program the bank runs at the agency for its members. The award recognizes an individual or organization that has a significant commitment to CAU.