03/13/2012 04:59 pm ET

'Ways To Work' Program Helps Detroit Families Buy Vehicles

A national program that offers families loans to buy or fix up used cars will soon be available in Detroit.

The Ways to Work program will provide $6,000 car loans and $1,500 repair loans to qualifying families in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties through two local non-profit organizations, Matrix Human Services and Spectrum Human Services. The program offers a flat 8 percent interest rate on loans and its repayment period lasts from 24 to 30 months. It kicks off in Michigan on March 26.

Matrix's Vice President of Adult Programming Karen Bisdorf said the program has a very specific audience: lower-income working people with dependent children who have a past history of credit problems. Participants in the program must take a financial literacy class and pass a review. They are then connected with a reputable car dealer and a prospective car is given a thorough inspection.

Bisdorf explained the program is about ensuring economic independence for its participants. She believes vehicle ownership will also create more stable home environments for the children of families involved.

"If we can link people to transportation, it's much more likely they'll hold onto jobs," said Bisdorf, "and, perhaps, move up in the work world where they'll have better access to health care and better opportunities to increase their incomes."

Funding for the program will be provided through the Kellogg, Kresge and Walmart foundations, as well as other businesses and philanthropic organizations.