You can go to ocnorthshortsales.com and receive a free ebook on how to short sell your home. I know you will find this information helpful. Any local Realtor should be able to help you with your rental needs.
Finding a homeowner to allow you to rent to own their home is not very difficult. Most homeowners right now looking to rent are doing so because they can't sell. The most important thing is to setup the agreements correctly so you are easily able to purchase the home before your option expires!
I am in Florida but there is information on our site to help teach this process.
I hope that helps!