We are all too familiar with the problems of the social housing system, particularly public housing. This paper argues that the system is no longer capable of addressing client needs, current national housing problems, or those looming over the horizon. It briefly examines the causes of the system’s parlous state and outlines proposals for reform to change it into one which is more contemporary. These include a new funding system (dependent on a new rent assistance model) which draws private rental housing into the social housing system, a reconfiguration of the roles of community and public housing (the latter to focus on low income households, not complex needs), and a new organisational structure for public housing which makes area and regional offices more autonomous and more closely linked to local communities and local government. The paper challenges a lot of the current orthodoxies of thought around the relationship between the market and the state, between social housing provision and support, and between past housing needs and those of the future. The objective is to advance debate as to what a contemporary social housing system should look like and what are its objectives.