The report said 8.4 million people in England lived in unaffordable, insecure or unsuitable homes.
A further 3.6m people lived in overcrowded homes and 2.5m adults shared with parents, an ex-partner or friends because they couldn’t afford to move.
More people in the North of England struggled to afford rent, while people in the South were more likely to face overcrowding or cohabiting with parents.
The research considered what would be necessary to house the 8.4 million people living in unaffordable, insecure or unsuitable housing. It said 43 per cent, or 3.6 million, would be able to afford to live decently only if placed in social housing, where rent is, on average, 50 per cent cheaper than in the private rental sector.
The report indicated that the number of people in need of social housing in England is almost double the number on the government’s waiting list.
The NHF said that England would need to build 340,000 new homes a year for a decade, including 145,000 social homes, in order to meet housing demand.
The organisation joined with Shelter, Crisis, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and the Chartered Institute of Housing, to call on government to invest £12.8bn every year for 10 years.
The plan should include 90,000 homes for social rent, 30,000 homes at intermediate affordable rent and 25,000 shared ownership homes, the report said.
“Today’s research reveals the full enormity of the housing crisis – clearly, it is the single biggest domestic issue we face. The government risks losing votes if it doesn’t take action to tackle the consequences it has for the lives of young and old alike, all across the country,” said Kate Henderson, chief executive at the NHF.
“This crisis cannot be solved by tweaks around the edges of the housing market. What we need is a return to proper funding for social housing, to the levels last seen under Churchill,” said Henderson.
“Investing in housing is a win-win for the government – it would bring down the housing benefit bill, provide everyone with a secure and stable start in life, and kick-start an economic boom creating thousands of jobs,” she added.