Gov. Phil Murphy praised a Princeton-based nonprofit organization that advocates for the deinstitutionalization of people with disabilities.

“The tireless advocacy displayed by Community Options to ensure that those with disabilities receive equal accommodation and treatment is a service for which we are forever indebted," Murphy said about the organization, which on Wednesday celebrated the 33rd anniversary of its founding by Robert Stack, who was 33 himself when Community Options launched in 1989.

The $300 million organization now operates 600 small homes for 4,600 people in 10 states but started with the first three community-based homes for people with disabilities who had been emancipated from New Jersey institutions.

The organization began at a time when many people with disabilities were consigned to state-run facilities. Nearly 200,000 people in the late 1970s were in such institutions, which critics likened to warehouses where many residents were often neglected or abused.

Since then, the number of people in institutions has declined by more than 87% and more than 650,000 people with disabilities are on waiting lists for community housing and services.

Colleen Wieck, executive director of the Minnesota Governor’s Council of Developmental Disabilities, called Community Options' work "groundbreaking" in proving wrong the "prevailing social belief was that institutions were the best possible place for people with disabilities."

NJ Diners that are open 24/7

Where everyone knows your name: Friendliest bars in NJ

More From New Jersey 101.5 FM