Google gives free voice mail to San Francisco's homeless

Bless it for doing something amazing.

Published February 28, 2008 8:18PM (EST)

Bless Google for doing something amazing: The company is handing out phone numbers and voice-mail boxes to every homeless person in San Francisco.

Folks can sign up for the numbers at shelters across the city. The numbers will be local and personal -- i.e., each person will get a unique 415-area code number that will never expire.

The number will ring a voice-mail box that will play a personalized greeting; homeless people can check their messages by dialing in from any phone.

Google announced the plan at an event with Mayor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday. The service, Newsom said, will help people who are filling out job applications or are awaiting medical test results. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Google has already handed out more than 4,000 numbers.

The project uses technology from GrandCentral, the phone start-up that Google bought last year. GrandCentral lets you use one number to ring all your phones, and track your voice-mail messages online.

Boy, this story is so uplifting it nearly erases two month of the serious downer that is watching "The Wire."

S.F. homeless get free phone numbers [San Francisco Chronicle]
Google Gives All SF Homeless Free Voicemail [KNTV]

By Farhad Manjoo

Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer and the author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.

MORE FROM Farhad Manjoo

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