Housing associations are experiencing the highest ever number of applications for shared ownership schemes since they began 30 years ago.
But the National Housing Federation, which represents England’s housing associations, said lenders are refusing to provide loans as they “mistakenly view them as potentially sub-prime”.
Federation policy officer Lucy Thornycroft said: “Many housing associations are consistently reporting their highest ever levels of demand for shared ownership schemes.”
One London housing association experienced a two-fold increase in interest in its affordable home ownership schemes from the same time the previous year.
Even before the current financial crisis, the initiative was popular - with four applications made for every low cost home available in 2007-08.
But despite strong demand, banks turned away up to £500 million of business on shared ownership products last year, leaving 9,000 low-cost homes empty - even though 90,000 households were interested in moving into them.
The initiative was launched by former Housing Minister John Stanley to give lower-earning families the opportunity to buy a share in a new home. More than 155,000 households have used the scheme to get on the property ladder since 1979.
David Orr, chief executive of the Federation said: “Thirty years on and demand for shared ownership homes is as strong as ever, but the banks’ current reluctance to lend on these properties mean thousands remain empty and unsold.”