HOWARD WOLFSON: Let me start by asking you, as I’ve asked some of the other candidates, about your start in politics and government. You started off as a housing expert, which is different from others in the race. What led you to that field?
SHAUN DONOVAN: My story begins with my grandfather, who was one of 10 poor Irish kids. He grew up on the south side of London. He was working the [docks] as a teenager, and literally got on a boat alone to go to West Africa, to South America, to try to make a living. My dad grew up in Costa Rica and Lima, Peru. He came to this country to get an education, like so many others, and came to New York to build a future. And he started a business, ran it his entire life, and found success.
But I also saw a very different New York — so many New Yorkers not finding opportunity when I was a kid. And that was what really shaped my career in public service.
I saw homelessness exploding on our streets and started asking myself, “How can it be that in the wealthiest city in the wealthiest country on earth, we let New Yorkers sleep on the streets?” I was watching the South Bronx and other neighborhoods in New York literally burn. I was at the 1977 World Series — the famous “Bronx is burning” World Series — and I will say it really lit a fire under me to try to help the city that I love and that had given me so much.