At its inception, the Irish Free State faced an apparently intractable housing problem that required immediate action. This article examines the legislation enacted in the 1920s and 1930s, focusing on its impact on local authority housing in Ireland's provincial towns. Whereas the 1932 Housing Act has generally been heralded as the start of a concerted attack on the slums, this assertion is re-evaluated in the context of the debates of the 1920s. Following an overview of the national situation, a case-study of Ballina, Co. Mayo, explores the impacts of the housing drive. State-aided housing schemes made a significant contribution to the housing stock between 1923 and 1940. Although characterized by contemporary media as a triumph, however, the housing drive raised many issues including build quality, costs, opposition and social segregation. The article considers some of these challenges and raises a number of questions for future consideration.