In the midst of a record-breaking cold snap, city staff were providing “incorrect” and “obsolete” information to people seeking emergency shelter at drop-in centres, the city’s ombudsman has concluded.

Susan Opler identified “serious shortcomings” in the intake and referral system for drop-ins, a service once described by a city councillor as a “Band-Aid on a Band-Aid,” in a city with a strained emergency shelter system and a dearth of affordable housing.

“What was originally intended as a temporary solution to meet demand for shelter has become a fixed part of the city’s response to homelessness,” wrote Opler, in a report posted online on Wednesday.