NI's biggest funding award granted from Europe to build social housing
Two Northern Ireland housing bodies have secured a combined £280m from the European Investment Bank.
It is the biggest tranche of funding it has ever announced in the region.
The capital - together with additional top-up cash from Stormont - will allow 4,700 low-rent, social homes to be built over the next five years.
The money is being split between the Choice (£150m) and Apex (£130m) housing associations.
The Luxembourg-based bank lends money on low-interest, long-term deals.
Previously it provided £150m towards the cost of the new Ulster University campus in Belfast.
It has also funded road projects, but until recently its activities in Northern Ireland have been considered modest.
Michael McDonnell, Chief Executive of Choice Housing, said the loan was "the most cost-effective long-term finance arrangement ever used in Northern Ireland".
"Ultimately that means we can make public money go further and put more social homes in the areas where they are needed most."
Martin Doherty, chairman of Apex, said the money will underpin Apex's development plans and enable the association to continue its current programme programme of transforming disused brown field sites in Belfast, such as North Queen Street police station.