Rouse said his last day at CABE would be 31 May, although he will start work at the Housing Corporation on 1 April.
He said: "It's a real drag to be leaving CABE because I've had a great three-and-a-half years here. But there's always the danger of going stale, and this is a great challenge."
His role at the Housing Corporation will be to manage a £1.2bn budget and co-ordinate the provision of affordable housing. Rouse's first job was working for the branch of the Department of the Environment that sponsored the Housing Corporation.
Rouse's knowledge of volume housebuilders will leave him well placed to deal with them if the housing bill goes through.
Under the bill the Housing Corporation will allocate public money to private housebuilders for the first time.
A CABE spokesperson said that a successor would be selected by an interview panel headed by CABE chairman Sir Stuart Lipton.
CABE's chairman of design review, Paul Finch, is also stepping down. He will be replaced by Ken Shuttleworth, a former partner of Foster and Partners.