This article reflects on the use of macro social theoretical perspectives to explain micro social issues, using social housing allocations as a case study. In contrast to a number of social theoretical examinations of social housing allocation schemes in recent years, spanning socio-legal studies, we argue that 'cookie-cutter' theories may overlook other positions and counter-factual scenarios. We draw on a sample of local authority allocation schemes to reflect on the growing category of households (commonly termed 'unhouseables' by housing officers) which are excluded from appearing on such schemes because of their former housing deviance or some other disqualification. We offer a set of reflections grounded in our data, which focus on sustainability. Thus, rather than point to particular rationalities or the like, we offer particular housing issues as explanatory factors - including the declining stock and financial 'competitiveness' of social housing management - as well as a rise in punitiveness.