A new not-for-profit company has been launched with the promised aim of keeping families who cannot pay their mortgages in their home.

Homeoptions says it will provide an alternative to so-called "vulture funds" for banks to sell distressed home loans to and is currently in active discussion to buy portfolios of non-performing loans.

The all-island organisation claims to have the financial potential to handle the estimated 28,000 home mortgages that have been in arrears for more than two years.

A Mortgage-to-Rent-to-Repurchase structure will be operated by the new entity, offering home owners with repayment issues the opportunity to stay in their houses through to retirement.

They will also have the option to buy back their property at a price agreed today, should their circumstances allow for it.

But forbearance will only go so far, and Homeoptions said it will have to enforce rules against any participants who don’t meet their obligations.

It says this will only happen once approval has been received from the board and procedures fully followed.

The company is being set up by individuals involved in activities focused on keeping families in their homes, with each of the board members holding shares in trust.

The board is to be chaired by Erskine Holmes OBE, the Founding Director of the Ulster Community Investment Trust.

"Homeoptions is a socially and economically responsible alternative to vulture funds - an Irish solution to the distressed family home mortgage crisis rooted in a not-for-profit business model and an ethos of 'fairness for all'," he said.

"Now, all of 10 years since the property crash, Homeoptions represents an important opportunity to put 28,000 families out of the reach of profit-motivated vulture funds and to deal fairly with all sides for the wider and long-term benefit of Irish society."

Other founding members of the board include Michael Durkan, a Founding Director of civic advocacy group Right2Homes, Eve Earley from Empowering Change & Right2Homes, healthcare and mental health worker Caroline Lennon-Nally and Brian Reilly, a non-executive director of Magnet Networks & a Founding Director of Right2Homes.

Homeoptions says its aim is to keep families in a home by providing "tailored, affordable solutions, taking account of each family’s personal circumstances."

Funding will be provided via senior and junior debt, it claims, and public funds will not be needed.

Any profits will be invested back into further loan purchases as well as an affordable housing programme for young people.

The funding and asset management services will be provided by Irish firm Quartech Solutions – a company with a background in managing large loan portfolios.

The new firm has received the backing of Master of the High Court, Edmund Honohan, as well as Fr Peter McVerry.