Tent cities are not the ultimate solution to a housing crisis but play an extremely important role, says a Vancouver lawyer who has fought on behalf of homeless people in that city.

A homeless camp allows vulnerable people to be together for emotional support and safety, provides community and makes it easier for social service agencies to find and help them, said Anna Cooper, with Vancouver-based Pivot Legal Society, which works alongside marginalized communities.

“Tent cities are also playing an extremely important role in harm reduction right now, while we’re in the midst of a national overdose crisis,” she said.