Mary Brosnahan on Homelessness in New York
Mary Brosnahan recalls a trip she took to Belfast, Northern Ireland, during the height of The Troubles: she was 16, raised in a Detroit suburb, but here she saw soldiers deployed with rifles right in the city center. The trip politicized the young Brosnahan, even though the seed didn't sprout right away. She had wanted a career in the film industry, but a stint doing presidential advance work for Michael Dukakis reactivated the political animal, and conversations she had with homeless neighbors near Cooper Union suggested a focus. She took a job with Coalition for the Homeless, and quickly became its chief operating officer. In the more than twenty years since, she's been a tireless advocate for New York's homeless — a population that now surpasses 60,000. Brosnahan sketches the history of the chronic urban problem for host Alec Baldwin, and offers insight into what she's learned at the helm of a New York institution.