The development, which would be the first of its kind in the UK, would house key workers such as teachers and nurses and the long-term homeless in the same 400-unit building.
London and Quadrant Housing Trust, homeless charity Crisis and thinktank the King's Fund are set to develop the scheme on a central London site. It is closely modelled on a similar project in Times Square, New York.
Two or three architects are talking with the consortium, and an appointment is expected within weeks.
The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment has been asked to provide design guidance, with meetings beginning in April.
Commenting on the scheme, urban regeneration specialist Ken Dytor said the scheme may prove attractive to social housing providers around the country.
Dytor, chief executive of developer Urban Catalyst, said: "It is an interesting consortium. Getting this mixture of people round the table would appeal to certain local authorities and community-led developments. It could address problems that London and other provincial cities have." King's Fund project co-ordinator Natasha Gowman said: "The units for key workers would provide housing for workers who are being priced out of London.
"The scheme will not house people who have just come off the streets, but those who are living in shelters and temporary accommodation and need help with their next step." The project will include support services and retail in an effort to differentiate it from the image of a hostel, although a design brief has not been decided.
Jeremy Stibbie, regeneration manager for London & Quadrant, said: "We have not decided on a design brief. We do not want to end up with a hostel design. The New York scheme includes a foyer that is a properly used space and has a mezzanine level. It is of a very high quality." Gowman said the New York scheme included a Starbucks coffee shop and Ben and Jerry's ice cream outlet. She said: "In the New York scheme, there was an innovative tax credit set up that enabled the shops to contribute revenue to the project. We also want them to provide employment and training for some residents." Support services for the previously homeless residents will include healthcare facilities and counselling services.
Funding is being sought from the Housing Corporation for the scheme.
Gowman said it was hoped that outline planning permission on a site could be secured by early summer.