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Until last week, Dereck Shelton was nearly unreachable. Homeless for the past year, Shelton had no phone number to give to friends, family and potential employers. "People in a position to hire make judgments about a person without a phone," he says. "They don't take that person seriously." That may change, thanks to Project C.A.R.E., a new program run by the San Francisco communications start-up GrandCentral. C.A.R.E. is giving Shelton and hundreds of other homeless people free permanent numbers, which go to voicemail boxes. The plan may be thwarted, though, by the Federal Communications Commission, which is considering a $1 monthly...

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