Over the past decade social exclusion has increasingly been positioned at the forefront of political, academic and lay discourse as the cause of disadvantage (Marsh, 2004). While the definition, measurement and solutions to social exclusion remain open to debate, housing has progressively been positioned as a central variable creating neighbourhoods of exclusion. Much of this debate has positioned areas of public housing as the most disadvantaged and socially excluded neighbourhoods. However, the multiplicity of social exclusion questions the simple identification of areas of public housing as the most excluded. By exploring six dimensions of exclusion (neighbourhood, social and civic engagement, access, crime and security, community identify and economic disadvantage) we argue that there is relatively little difference between areas dominated by public housing and those characterised by private rental for each of these individual dimensions of exclusion (with a number of exceptions). Rather, it is the experience of multiple dimensions of exclusion which marks areas of public housing as unique.