The initiative will kick-start activity on mothballed housing sites
At least 1,000 extra homes will be built, as part of a Scottish government initiative to provide more properties for rent.
Ten councils have confirmed an interest in the National Housing Trust (NHT).
The trust will see councils join forces with developers to build and let houses in areas where many people are unable to buy or rent at market prices.
The Scottish government will underwrite loans and the properties will be let to tenants for between five and 10 years.
The fact that the rent is short-term differentiates the scheme from most forms of social housing.
The Scottish government and the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) said it devised the National Housing Trust (NHT) as a direct response to the economic downturn and the squeeze on public finances.
The NHT, which will kick-start activity on mothballed housing sites, is expected to lever in about £130m of extra housing investment.
Barry White, SFT chief executive, said: "Delivering innovative financing solutions that offer value for money is a key role for SFT, particularly when public finances are becoming increasingly stretched.
"These proposals have been shaped though dialogue with local government, the house building industry and the financial sector.
"I am confident that NHT will deliver affordable rented homes and give developers the opportunity to kick-start dormant projects."
Housing Minister Alex Neil said: "Traditional methods of supplying housing need to change because of the scale of the new economic and financial challenges we all face.
"Scotland is spearheading the drive in the UK for alternative sources of funding and innovative housing delivery models.
"The NHT breaks new ground and has potential to significantly increase the supply of affordable homes in many parts of the country."
Jonathan Fair, chief executive of Homes For Scotland, said: "This initiative is another example of the progressive thinking that is required in the new economic environment both public and private sectors are now having to operate in."
The following local authorities have confirmed interest in the scheme: Aberdeen; Aberdeenshire; Edinburgh; Dundee; Glasgow, Stirling, East Dunbartonshire; East Lothian; East Renfrewshire; and West Lothian.