Public housing in Northern Ireland should be managed by a business owned by tenants to save £585m over three decades, a review said.
The social enterprise would be a not-for-profit company assuming the landlord role of the Housing Executive, consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) suggested.
Politicians would still shape its investment priorities and social objectives but the new body would be outside the public sector.
Richard Parker, PwC head of housing, said: "In purely financial terms this is not the most beneficial option we considered but it clearly emerged as the one which provided the best balance between the interests of tenants, staff and taxpayers."
Mr Parker was giving evidence to the social development committee at Stormont.
The landlord function would be performed through the social enterprise, be split from the Housing Executive and be placed outside the public sector.
Self-funding and able to borrow against its assets and rental income, it would be a not-for-profit mutual owned by tenants.