Social Policy and Society

Themed section on Disciplining Difference

The Role of Social Housing in the ‘Care’ and ‘Control’ of Tenants with Mental Health Problems

Sadie Parra1

a1 Centre for Regional, Economic and Social Research (CRESR), Sheffield Hallam University E-mail:


Social housing is at the intersection of two policy agendas, namely anti-social behaviour and community care. This means that tenants with mental ill-health might at once be defined as vulnerable and in need of support to enable them to live independently, but simultaneously their behaviour may be viewed as a threat to the safety of others serving to legitimatise disciplinary and punitive forms of intervention on the grounds of ‘difference’. This paper focuses on the role of housing professionals in the management of cases of ASB involving people with mental ill-health. It argues that housing practitioners are not adequately equipped to make judgements on the culpability of ‘perpetrators’ who have mental ill-health and ensure their response is appropriate. This raises questions about the training housing officers recieve, and more broadly, whether the competing policy aims of community care and ASB can be reconciled.