For a city of Tampa's size, we have a higher than average number of poor and homeless persons, including families and less organizations serving them than most cities. Metropolitan Ministries is one of the few large scale providers for this growing population.
However, the numbers are not in our favor, especially with the exponential growth during the past few years. As you may have seen in recent studies, the gap between the rich and poor in our nation is continuing to rise, as is the number of families and children living below the poverty line. As this population grows, the number of homeless persons will rise, especially when we factor in the rising housing costs in the nation, especially in cities such as Tampa (over 150% housing price rise in 5 years).
One thing we can take from this is that even if the big government welfare state harped on by conservatives was a failure; welfare reform, less governmental services, no rise in the minimum wage and other favored economic policies by the Republicans in power have done nothing to help the poor rise out of their situation. If it alone is not the cause of rising poverty and homeless issues in America (which, I do not think is the case), we can gather that such policies have done nothing to help those in greatest need.
Therefore, those believing in such draconian economic policies must take the lead in action and not rhetoric. Those believing in such strongly conservative principles of economic policy and desiring a government "so small I can drown it in a bathtub" must step up to the plate and do something besides say "government should not be in the handout business" and actually get into the "hand up business" themselves or support those of us that do it. This is especially important for the church. It cannot sit on the sidelines while people are falling through societies cracks.
If any church does not do this, they are forfeiting their place as heralds of Christ and as his hands and feet.
UPDATE on September 21, 2005
From these articles you may find me taking too much time harping on conservatives. While it is true that I am not a proponent of the extreme fringes of the free market economy, I do believe that those believing in conservative economic policies (as long as they are not the one's that favor huge incentives to corporations while breaking the back of the poor) can be very concerned for the poor and be on the front lines when dealing with issues of poverty.
Examples of truly compassionate conservativism would include Jack Kemp and John McCain, whom have worked hard to enact policies which would help the poor rise out of poverty. However, the CC of Olasky and Bush seems to be more rhetorical than action-oriented, with little understanding of the actual factors causing poverty (including unjust systems). Also, people such as Rudy Curassco in Pasadena and some conservative churches in America are front-line workers in the war on poverty who see conservative economic policies helping poor people when enacted properly.
By the way, in a perfect world, I would support more conservative economic policy. However, as a frontliner in the war on poverty, I work with whomever cares about the issue. Sadly, less "conservatives" seem to be concerned. So, I tend to align myself with more "liberals." If it were to change, I would be among the more happy people you would find.