Fiona Millar, journalist and former aide to Cherie Blair, is to head a UK-wide investigation into housing conditions for Shelter.
The housing charity has pulled together a high-profile panel from academia, politics, journalism, music and frontline services to gather evidence on the extent of housing problems nationwide.
The inquiry will look at conditions in London, the south west, Edinburgh and the north west, and is part of Shelter's One Million Children campaign to end poor housing for children.
Millar said: "Poverty, education and parenting are recognised as central to children's lives, yet housing - one of the most significant factors in a child's development - is often overlooked."
In a Mori poll commissioned by Shelter, 70 per cent of people believe there is a housing crisis in Britain. High house prices were rated as the worst problem.
The investigation panel includes fashion designer Wayne Hemingway and Labour peer Lord Haskins.