San Francisco's Project Homeless Connect Adds Voicemail and Healthcare Access

Google and Project CARE to give every homeless person in SF a local number and voicemail.

by / March 5, 2008

Mayor Newsom's Project Homeless Connect kicked off its 21st installment last week with two new programs designed to improve the quality of life for the city's homeless community. Homeless clients participating in today's PHC were able to register to received free life-long phone numbers and voicemail service provided by Google as a part of their Project CARE (as in Communications and Respect for Everybody.) Also the California Pacific Medical Center launched its pilot program that offered free mammograms to homeless women.

"Providing phone and messaging capabilities and access to vital healthcare is an extraordinary step forward in the city's commitment to a comprehensive approach to addressing the needs of this vulnerable community," said Mayor Newsom. "Housing our homelessness residents remains my top priority and providing these services will certainly improve their quality of life and empower this community to be more self-sufficient."

The free phone numbers and voicemail provided by Google will allow homeless clients the ability to check voicemail using a personal identification number from any phone. Users can record their own greetings, and no indication is given to callers that the service is different from any other voicemail system. Google in partnership with the Mayor's Office plans to expand the service to all homeless shelters throughout the city. Google selected San Francisco as the model city for the new service and anticipates that the program will extend to the state and national levels.

Craig Walker, Senior Product Manager- Voice Products for Google noted, "We're firm believers in the power of technology to improve the daily lives of individuals and communities as a whole, and we recognize that access to phone and voicemail services is one way that Google can help San Francisco's homeless stay connected with family, friends, social workers, health care providers, and potential employers."

The free mammograms provided by the California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) is designed to address the health needs of some the city's homeless women who lack a home or a safe place to stay, which often precludes them from getting a regular mammogram and health care check-ups. This new service complements Mayor Newsom's commitment to providing comprehensive health care access and services to all San Franciscans regardless of their homeless status.

Newsom's innovative approach and designated national best practice continues to prove to be an effective way to connect the city's most vulnerable population to the services and programs they toward the road to self-sufficiency.

Project Homeless Connect is now being duplicated across the country in 150 cities and counties in 26 states as well as internationally in countries like Canada and Australia. PHC Director Judith Klain was recently honored with the MFAC Public Managerial Excellence Award for her work with the city's renowned homeless outreach program.

This outreach effort marked the 21st Project Homeless Connect event at the Bill Graham Auditorium and was sponsored by the California Pacific Medical Center and Sutter Health which also provided a large contingent of volunteers for the event.

For more information on PHC or information on how to volunteer, please visit www.SFConnect.org.

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