A shake-up of the Housing Executive will not mean large-scale job losses, it has been claimed.
Current staff will still have to deliver services under a new and more affordable structure, Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland said.
He warned that the executive is no longer sustainable, nor makes the best use of taxpayers' money, and wants to attract investment from outside the public sector.
Unions have raised job concerns and some claimed privatisation to help pay the £5 billion housing maintenance bill over the next three decades may increase rental rates charged to vulnerable tenants.
Mr McCausland said his proposals "do not herald large-scale job losses, as I have made quite clear the staff in the Housing Executive currently delivering landlord and non-landlord functions will still have to deliver those functions but in different, more focused and financially sustainable, structures".
All Housing Executive homes are unlikely to be divided between existing housing associations.
The minister has pledged that charges by any new social landlord would be set by a new independent panel within government guidelines and rental policy to ensure affordability.
He wants to create a new regional housing body and separate landlord to replace an executive he believes currently cannot make best use of public money and assets.
Around 90,000 homes could be moved out of the public sector and become part of the housing association sector.
Mr McCausland told the Assembly: "By the end of March 2015 I aim to have in place a sustainable housing system which delivers regional social housing needs through new landlord structures and housing associations and which is strategically directed, governed and regulated."