Milwaukee cop finds housing for homeless family when system worked against them

Milwaukee Police Officer Karla Lehmann has felt frustrated in her 25-year career. But she always lives up to the badge she wears.

"I didn't want to give up because I had given my word," she said.

She had given her word to help keep Latasha Hayward and her three kids off the streets.

"It's an amazing feeling knowing someone actually cares," said Hayward.

A mutual friend introduced Hayward and Lehmann to each other, with the hopes Lehmann could use her knowledge to find Hayward community resources.

But that wasn't easy.

Hayward was evicted after losing her previous job and there were no open spots for transitional housing.

"Unless perhaps she was dealing with drug and alcohol addiction or she was fleeing a domestic violence situation or she fit the definition of chronically homeless," Lehmann said.

Desperate, Lehmann turned to Go Fund Me hoping to raise $5,000.

It happened just in time, days before Hayward had to leave the shelter. The entire mission was kept as a surprise.

"When I found that out I didn't do anything but cry," Hayward said. "And just thank God that I got her in my life."

Hayward now lives in an apartment, with a fireplace, beds for her kids, toys and toiletries. All of the items have been paid for through the Go Fund Me account or donated by the community.

Her rent is paid up to six months and a management company worked out a one-year lease.

She said she's grateful for the new start.

"Without that I don't know what situation I'd be in right now," Hayward said.

But just as important, she said, is the new face to help she and her family along the way.

"My goal is to get Latasha to be independent, but I can do that through friendship as well," Lehmann said.

Lehmann is managing the Go Fund Me money and working to make sure Hayward can stand on her own two feet once the donations are gone.

In the meantime, both of them hope this story will improve the system's support for homeless mothers with children.

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