Over the past decade social exclusion has increasingly been positioned at the forefront of political, academic and lay discourse as the cause of disadvantage. 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 being the most disadvantaged and socially excluded neighbourhoods. However, the multidimensionality of social exclusion brings into question the simple identification of areas of public housing as being the most excluded. By exploring six dimensions of exclusion (neighbourhood, social and civic engagement, access, crime and security, community identity and economic disadvantage) we explore the differences between areas dominated by public housing and those characterised by private market housing in terms of their scores on each of these individual dimensions of exclusion. We find that it is the experience of households with multiple dimensions of exclusion, especially locational and economic disadvantage, that differentiate areas of public housing from private housing locations.