Citigroup is trying something new to keep struggling homeowners out of foreclosure: turn them into renters.

CitiMortgage is painting its new program as a way to help homeowners stuck in houses they can't afford.

The bank won't manage the program. It is handing the reigns to an investment firm that bought a $158 million mortgage portfolio from Citi.

Carrington Capital Management and its sister mortgage company will comb the portfolio for eligible homeowners who are at least four months past due. Homeowners would transfer ownership to Carrington and another firm, Oaktree Capital Management. Carrington would then negotiate with the homeowners-turned-renters for "a manageable monthly payment" and how long the lease should last.

Carrington says the pilot program will help about 500 homeowners Arizona, California, Texas, Florida, Nevada and Georgia.