Around the same time, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded a grant of more than $1 million to a consortium of homeless services providers, the "Bay Area Homeless Alliance" (BAHA), to establish voicemail service for homeless people throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. This proved more difficult than expected.
In 1996, BAHA coalition members researched various programs offering free voicemail service to low-income persons and decided to invite the Baha'i-sponsored "Voicemail for the Homeless" program to expand throughout the Bay Area, with BAHA's cooperation.
Using their own funds, ten Spiritual Assemblies in the Bay Area each purchased a computer, modified it with hardware and software that APEX donated, and selected two volunteers to run the program in each of their counties. The eight-county rollout process was completed in 1998.
By 1998, the Project was operating in the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Solano, and Sonoma. The Project's sole operating costs have been the monthly charges for the telephone lines connected to each voicemail system and the occasional computer parts needed for replacement or repairs. All technical support and outreach services have been provided by Bahá'í volunteers in each county.
Today, the Project serves many Bay Area social service agencies, public and private, and through them reaches more than a thousand homeless and low-income persons every day. Since its inception, the Project has continually expanded the scope of its service to include agencies serving those who are:
In 2006, the Voicemail Project became an incorporated 501(c) non-profit organization. It was granted Califorina tax-exempt status in 2009.
We debuted a major software upgrade in 2008, bringing the Voicemail Project into the internet age. The newer computers use the Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP), enabling us to serve multiple locations with each system.