"Study after study shows we're going to save money by putting people into permanent supportive housing," she says.
They also are arguing for $120 million to support programs that help keep formerly homeless people from ending up back on the pavement.
And what are the chances these pleas will be answered?
Gil Duran, a spokesman for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), tells me the senator "supports these programs" and "will continue to work to ensure that California cities get the help they need." But it remains to be seen whether President Obama's budget will include the necessary funds.
A staffer for Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) tells me that given the current fiscal crisis, it would help convince doubters in Congress if there were more hard evidence that supportive housing can save money over the long term.
I leave it to one of my fellow panel members to make that case. Sister Mary Scullion of Philadelphia is convinced beyond a doubt that with a combination of public investment and private support, investing in permanent supportive housing is humane and cost-effective.
The last time I visited Sister Mary in Philadelphia, she took me to a formerly devastated neighborhood that has been rebuilt by Project HOME, which she co-founded two decades ago. When I asked who did all the work, Sister Mary said, "our people," meaning formerly homeless, mentally ill people who were given homes and jobs rebuilding the neighborhood.
Sister Mary is the last speaker at the Capitol Hill briefing and no doubt the most compelling.
If Congress can find $80 billion to bail out the inept insurance giant AIG, she says, surely it can come up with $2.2 billion for supportive housing. As for the request for $120 million in support services, Scullion adds, that was roughly what AIG paid in executive bonuses.
"I'm not kidding," Sister Mary says as I scribble in my notebook, happy to be back on the other side of the podium.