As the recession drives unemployment and repossession levels to rise the NHF predicts the number of households on waiting lists will go from 1.77 million last year to 1.97 million by 2011.
If this forecast is borne out the number of those waiting for social housing will have doubled from the one million who were on waiting lists in 2001.
The NHF claims around 80,000 of new households on waiting lists will be directly attributable to the downturn with a further 120,000 joining because on the ongoing lack of affordable housing.
The federation says the government needs to bring forward £6.4bn in funding to build social homes over the next two years.
Ruth Davison, director of the NHF, says: “We are currently witnessing a dramatic surge in the demand for social housing, as the recession really starts to bite.
“The housing crisis is now so great that unless dramatic action is taken it may take decades for the nation to recover.
“The fact that waiting lists are set to double between 2001 and 2011 shows that we simply have not produced the number of homes we so desperately need.”