MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) — Right on the Center for Disease Control’s website, there’s a page that breaks down “People Who Need to Take Extra Precautions” during the COVID-19 pandemic by listing various demographics.

And so there’s additional information for people with asthma, people who are immunocompromised, older adults, people with disabilities and people experiencing homelessness. And as the page for that last group notes: “Because many people who are homeless are older adults or have underlying medical conditions, they may also be at higher risk for severe disease.”

It’s precisely that sort of vulnerability that has an organization such as North Iowa’s “Northern Lights Alliance for the Homeless” operating through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was quite obvious that homeless people would be dramatically impacted by COVID-19, so it was important to us that we could get people off of the streets and try and keep them safe and away from that possibility of being exposed,” Northern Lights Executive Director Jeannie Kingery told the Mason City Globe Gazette.

According to Kingery, the first big decision the organization had to make when shutdowns began in March was whether or not to even stay open. Some, such as a shelter in Sioux City, opted to temporarily close in March. Others like Northern Lights stayed open but with modifications for client intake and safety equipment use.

Northern Lights’ main priority became “emergency clients” or those who had no other place to go. And once in, residents had to wear masks in the common areas and any time they went out and came back in. That stopped for five weeks, however, when Northern Lights quarantined. During that time, residents were only allowed to go out for absolute essentials like food. Kingery said those precautions worked well and kept residents from harm.

With the general concern she has for Northern Lights’ clients, Kingery said that she’s particularly worried right now that people without a place to go could be forgotten at a time when there’s so much for people to pay attention to.

“Even on the good day, there are a lot of people that don’t realize we have a homeless population in North Iowa,” she reflected. “It’s important for us to stay out there in the public and let them know we are here and we have clients that are more at risk than ever.”

One way that could manifest is a downturn in support.

This time of year, Kingery said Northern Lights would normally have a spring fundraiser, but that’s been pushed back to the fall. This was a big hit to the budget, as is the overall slow in donations, which Kingery thinks is owed to general financial uncertainty right now.

Kingery also thinks that that slow in support could matter more in July when eviction moratoriums run out and those who haven’t been able to pay rent because of financial upheaval are forced out of their homes.

In Iowa, the renting population totals 790,918 (according to Princeton University’s Eviction Lab project). Which means that an eviction rate in Iowa of even 2.3% (a rough national average) would result in 18,191 people being left without a home.

“We haven’t had anyone come in yet saying they’ve lost their job or can’t pay rent,” Kingery said. “But I’m kind of anticipating after July 25th we’re going to get really busy really fast.”

If that does happen, Kingery was clear about Northern Lights would try to do.

“We’ll have to take in who we can.”