The Northern Ireland Housing Executive is to undergo the biggest shake-up in its 50-year history.
The organisation will be split in two with its landlord arm becoming an independent mutual organisation.
This will enable it to borrow money and start building houses again.
The Housing Executive, which is Northern Ireland’s public housing authority, has not built houses since the mid-1990s.
Instead, social housing has been built by housing associations.
The shake-up was announced by Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín, who said change is needed to increase the supply of social homes.
“We need to build and allocate more social homes to meet growing need. We need housing sectors beyond social housing to provide affordable and suitable homes.”
She said that giving the landlord arm of the executive borrowing powers would initially allow it to improve its existing properties.
“A 2018 analysis found that the landlord side needed to invest around £7.1bn in these 85,000 homes over the next 30 years if these are to remain decent homes for our households and families. £3 billion of this investment was required over the next 11 years.
“The Housing Executive can only afford about half of this requirement.”
The minister’s plan also includes a review of the Housing Executive house sales policy.
She said that having policies of trying to increase social housing while also selling social houses at a discount means “we have one policy that is in direct conflict with another”.