Almost one million Brits have turned to payday loans to pay the rent or mortgage, according to housing charity Shelter.
Its research also found that 20% of households have had to borrow money to cover housing costs.
A quarter said they would feel too ashamed to ask for help if they couldn't pay their rent or mortgage and 40% said they wouldn't admit to struggling with their housing costs to family or friends.
With so many people "suffering in silence", Shelter also reported that the number of people it helped because they couldn't pay their rent or mortgage rose by almost a third last year.
One person who received assistance was Katharine Whittaker, a mum of two from Yorkshire. Explaining her situation, she said: "It's very difficult when it comes to making ends meet and paying for the roof over our heads. The rent takes at least half my wages. It's absolutely horrible trying to juggle the rent and other bills like this.
"I've borrowed money from family and I've had to ask the bank for an overdraft just to keep our heads above water. It's a constant worry thinking about finding extra money."
The charity is urging anyone facing difficulties to get advice early. Shelter can help with negotiating ‘mortgage holidays' with mortgage lenders or help devise re-payment plans for arrears.
Campbell Robb, Shelter's chief executive, said: "We're now hearing from record numbers of families up and down the country who are desperately struggling to keep the roof over their heads. But the truth is, we're more worried about the people we don't see.
"Our message today is don't keep your worries to yourself: Shelter's expert advisers can be the difference between keeping your home and losing it."