Statewide Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity names members

Today (July 19th, 2021), Speaker of the House Louise Stutes (R – Kodiak) confirmed 23 appointees to the statewide Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity, created by passage House Resolution 8 this session.

House Resolution 8, sponsored by Representative Geran Tarr (D – Anchorage), brings together a multi-disciplinary group, including elected officials, university researchers, representatives of non-profits, representatives of tribal government, representatives from the faith community, and members of the public with lived experience accessing public benefits. This task force will be primarily responsible with engaging with stakeholders across the state to provide policy solutions and recommendations for poverty and economic opportunity in Alaska.

“I am very excited about the potential for this task force,” said Rep. Tarr. “We have such a strong group of diverse members who are all experts in their fields, whether it be researchers from the Institute of Social and Economic Research at UAA, executive directors of non-profits from around the state, sitting assembly members from both small and large municipalities from around Alaska, or representatives from ANCs and tribal government and Alaskans with lived experience– just to name a few of the appointees. Members are coming from regions all across Alaska, with members not only coming from Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau, but also smaller villages and towns such as Petersburg, Unalakleet, and Wainwright.”

One of the members chosen for this task force is Patrick Anderson, Chief Executive Officer of RurAL CAP (Rural Alaska Community Action Program), a non-profit providing health care, housing, and education services to low-income rural Alaskan communities.

“The face of poverty has changed since the Great Society programs were started in the 1960’s,” said Patrick Anderson, speaking to the need for the task force. “With the passage of HR 8 in the Alaska House of Representatives, we have an exciting opportunity to start a discussion about the multiple root causes of poverty and seek innovative programs to help address it. I am hopeful that we can help our 80,000 residents who struggle with poverty to improve their lives.”

The HR 8 Task Force will begin meetings in the coming weeks, and meetings of this task force will be posted online on the Alaska Legislature website. Meetings will continue until the end of 2022, when the task force will release an overarching report on its policy recommendations and findings. The public is welcome to attend meetings and there will be opportunities for public comment.

House Resolution 8 was primarily sponsored by Rep. Geran Tarr of Anchorage, and was cosponsored by Rep. Neal Foster (D – Nome), Rep. Andi Story (D – Juneau), Rep. Harriet Drummond (D – Anchorage), Rep. Ivy Spohnholz (D – Anchorage), Rep. Andy Josephson (D – Anchorage), and Rep. Grier Hopkins (D – Fairbanks).