A Government-backed not-for-profit finance firm has been launched to target people with low incomes and help them avoid the need to approach a loan shark or other doorstep provider.
The National Housing Federation, which is also involved in the project, said the new My Home Finance group offers people credit at lower rates than they are used to.
Eligible borrowers can receive sums of around £500 to help buy basic things like school uniforms, washing machines or furniture.
The loans will cost 29.9% in interest a year and will need to be repaid weekly.
A typical doorstep lender demands 200% interest and loan sharks are known to charge as much as 2,000%.
My Home Finance will also provide advice on debt and other money matters.
The group is the result of a partnership between the Department for Work and Pensions, Royal Bank of Scotland, 26 housing associations and the Wates Foundation charity.
It will be one of the largest not-for-profit lenders ever seen in England.
A total of 10 My Home Finance branches have opened across the West Midlands by the end of October.