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Emily Coote is a Relocation Case Manager at Harmony House, New Community’s transitional housing facility for homeless families.

Harmony House Relocation Case Manager Started as a Volunteer with New Community

Emily Coote has a passion for helping others which she has turned into a career. She first came to New Community as a volunteer while in college, assisting at the Family Resource Success Center. She continued volunteering even after graduation and became a temporary Case Manager at Harmony House, New Community’s transitional housing facility for homeless families, on July 11, 2022. She was made a full-time employee and currently serves as a Relocation Case Manager at Harmony House.

Coote focuses on finding permanent housing for Harmony House residents in her current role. She goes out in the field to find apartments and researches as much information as possible about subsidized housing, low-income housing, affordable housing and market rent rates in the area. In addition, she provides resources to help clients obtain employment and creates individual service plans for them.

Finding permanent housing that clients can afford is challenging.

“It’s very difficult because we’re in an era where the demand is so high but the supply is extremely low,” Coote said.

She doesn’t let the circumstances discourage her, however. She is continuously looking for ways to help her clients move to self-sufficiency and has helped several move into permanent housing.

Harmony House Director Yonette Fredericks said Coote came to the department with optimism and an eagerness to help clients overcome their barriers to obtaining permanent housing.

“Ms. Coote, willing to pitch in wherever she is needed, continues to be a beacon of hope for the clients and, ultimately, her peers,” Fredericks said. “The Harmony House team is pleased to have such a bright and tenacious Relocation Case Manager who continues to demonstrate the passion and commitment to aiding the fight against homelessness.”

Coote has always been passionate about helping others. In her free time, she fed the homeless and hosted clothing drives. She grew fond of New Community and its mission when she began volunteering at the Family Resource Success Center. Director Joann Williams-Swiney suggested that she apply for a job with the organization and provided her with a recommendation.

“Emily was and is courteous and kind to every client she encounters. She is straightforward in a respectful way which fosters a connection with the clients she works with. She is a go-getter and a determined young woman who cares about those in her community,” Williams-Swiney said. “Emily truly embodies the mission of NCC.”

Coote decided she wanted a career in social work shortly after starting her post-secondary education at Essex County College. Coote’s mother, who passed away when she was born, was a social worker. When she was 19, Coote learned about her mother’s career and the passion she had for helping others. She was told firsthand accounts of how her mother had helped people and made a positive difference in their lives. It was then she decided to pursue social work as a career. After Essex County College, Coote attended Rutgers-Newark and graduated with a major in social work and a minor in women and gender studies.

Coote previously worked at Overlook Medical Center in Summit in an administrative role. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit, she took a job as a tool rental associate at Home Depot, where she rented out equipment and demonstrated how it worked to customers. She enjoyed the position but wanted to find a role to use her social work degree.

The best part of the job for Coote happens when a client thanks her and understands the services she is providing.

Coote is grateful that Harmony House exists in the area because it offers private space for families, which is rare. Most shelters have communal areas instead of individual units with private kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms.

“I tell the clients all day that this shelter is considered the W [Hotel] to any other shelter in this city and in this county,” she said.

In addition to privacy, Harmony House residents also have access to all the other services New Community provides, including mental health counseling from Family Service Bureau of Newark (FSB); free tax prep, furniture assistance and energy bill assistance at the Family Resource Success Center; and educational services from New Community Career & Technical Institute (NCCTI).

Coote doesn’t limit her contributions at Harmony House to her official duties as a Relocation Case Manager. She also pitches ideas for events that she coordinates if they get approved. Right before Valentine’s Day she arranged for licensed individuals to provide haircuts and hair braiding for Harmony House children.

“I like that Ms. Fredericks allows me to bring in some ideas and actually execute them,” she said. “It was a real success.”

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