This article is based on the initial results of research in progress on state housing policies for workers, and notably on a study of policies implemented in Paris and London between 1890 and 1939. The perspective employed is that state housing is an essential means of consumption for the reproduction of a labour force, and it is posited that while public housing relates to a consumption process different from that of the private or ‘assisted’ sectors, all housing policies affect the use‐value of a dwelling unit, its con. sumption cost, and mode of occupation. These effects are examined in terms of the historical relationship between housing policies and the productive demands of developing capital. In turn, this relationship is considered within a perspective of class struggle during this period.