First of all, Congratulations on being in recovery. I have friends that are as well, and i'm honestly proud of you guys.
Secondly. How do you know that you can't qulify? Have you talked to a lender and that's the information they gave you or do you just assume?
You are right, trying to use the opportunity to buy right now, since the market has prety much hit the rock bottom in my opinion, in the lower price range. Plus the first time home buyer's credit if you qualify.
Lease options are still being exercised, but it honestly depends on each particular property and whether the owner would entertain sth like that.
I could do some more research for you, if you'd like and if you tell me your exact criteria.
Feel free to contact me,
Prudential California Realty