Often times there are acronyms for housing programs that don’t necessarily tell the entire story about how meaningful such a program can be for clients. And so it is with HEARTWAP, which stands for Heating Emergency Assistance Retrofit Task Weatherization Assistance Program.

On behalf of the state, HAC oversees HEARTWAP on Cape Cod and the islands. The figurative “heart” behind HEARTWAP is HAC’s Jo Ann Cournoyer.

Nancy Davison, HAC’s vice president of program operations, had high praise for Cournoyer’s work which “has resulted in people being safe and warm in their homes,” adding that HEARTWAP is “one of those hidden program gems which continues to provide valuable services because it is managed by a committed and competent HAC staff person.”

In April, Cournoyer celebrated her 10-year anniversary at HAC. “I love working at HAC and enjoy the tasks associated with my work,” Cournoyer said. For the past eight years, Cournoyer’s focus has largely been on managing the HEARTWAP program.

HEARTWAP provides emergency repairs and replacements of heating systems for homeowners who are receiving fuel assistance and whose income does not exceed 60 percent of the estimated state median income, equivalent to $33,126 for a one-person family; $43,319 for a two-person family; and $53,511 for a three-person family.

Cournoyer receives referrals from HAC’s energy auditors, other agencies and heating contractors. Once she receives permission from the homeowner to provide assistance, Cournoyer will set up a work authorization, sending a contractor to the home to determine if it’s a quick repair or more involved. Every situation is different, Cournoyer said, and could involve asbestos, mold or frozen pipes.

“The objective is to restore heat during emergencies and improve the efficiency of their heating system,” Cournoyer said, noting that the benefits of HEARTWAP is that “it helps with the economics of a client’s life… Heating system work is expensive.”

Last year, HAC was able to replace 45 heating systems, repair 193, clean and tune 218 and replace 26 oil tanks, work that these clients could not have paid for on their own.

To determine if you might quality for the HEARTWAP program, contact Jo Ann Cournoyer at 508-771-5400, ext. 106 or at