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APA-IL COVID-19 Survey Results

Updated: Jun 19, 2020

In April 2020, the APA-IL surveyed Illinois urban planners to learn what challenges Illinois’ urban planners were experiencing related to the COVID-19 pandemic and how APA-IL could be of service to them and their communities at this time. The response was record-breaking, with 527 respondents! Thank you to all that took the time to take this important survey.

Who took the survey?

Out of the 527 respondents, 91% of the respondents were APA or APA-IL Chapter Only members. Respondents were asked to provide their zip codes which allowed us to understand what Section the respondents were reporting from. Approximately 80% of the respondents lived or worked in the Chicago Metro Section and 20% lived or worked in the Illinois State Section (click here to see a map of how our Sections breakdown).

What challenges are being faced?

Work Related Challenges

The overall work-related challenges to individuals were focused on transitioning to working from home. Comments for this question revolved around the uncertainty and holds that had been placed on employment offers, funding, projects, budgets, and permitting. Several reported pay-cuts, furloughs, and lay-offs. There was also concern expressed for whether municipalities and politicians would continue to place value on long-range planning efforts.

Note: More than one category could be selected. Percentages were rounded.

School-Related Challenges

The majority of respondents said that they had no school related challenges but commented on the struggles of balancing work and their children's school challenges. A few other comments discussed technical issues (sharing limited broadband or wi-fi with adults and school age children). We also heard from a few professors or adjunct professors that have had difficultly or stress in transitioning to an online learning platform.

Personal Challenges

As seen in the graph below, respondents mainly fell into 3 buckets: stress, work-life balance, or no personal challenges. Comments focused on needing to home school children while working full-time and concerns for family members with medical conditions.

Note: More than one category could be selected. Percentages were rounded.

How APA-IL can help with COVID-19 Challenges

As a 501c3 tasked with providing professional development for urban planners in Illinois, it is important that the Chapter understand how we can best serve our members in the strange times we are currently living through and in the months ahead ans we return to a new normal. Sharing resources and creating virtual events and training were the top 3 areas respondents chose.

Comments were wide-ranging with the majority identifying the need for wider CM credit availability and making online/virtual sessions more readily available. Guidance on funding opportunities and resources for local governments were also popular comments.

2020 APA-IL State Conference Planning

Many of us were saddened by the cancellation of the 2020 National Planning Conference in Houston this year. Many people, mostly first time national conference attendees, flocked to the virtual conference, NPC@Home. While we have been waiting for improvements in the COVID-19 situation in Illinois and Governor Pritzker's phased plan to Restore Illinois, we have also been busy planning different scenarios for our state conference this year. Part of our planning efforts needed to involve YOU, our members and non-members that attend our conference each year and look forward to hearing the latest in Illinois urban planning issues and networking with fellow Illinoisans. While we understand that in-person conference attendance is a moving target, we also knew that we needed your input and this is why our survey also included the question about conference attendance.

We were delighted to see that about 60% of you would possibly attend and in-person conference and the main reasons were 1) needing CM credits 2) employer paying for attendance 3) I look forward to it and 4) craving in-person networking. While there are many of you that would attend, the reality is that 40% of you would not attend because you would not be comfortable attending large events or cannot afford the expense.

The Chapter's Conference Committee is continuing planning efforts with your feedback in mind and while also taking into account the Restore Illinois plan and local policies.

Additional Comments

Topics that were left in our additional comments box were varied and included: census concerns, the need for more discussion and information on remote public hearings, resources for students that will be graduating, information on public spaces, lessons learned from the 2008-2009 recession, and public health.

Thank you to the many respondents that actually thanked us for taking the time to conduct the survey and collecting opinions. Just doin' our job!

Where to go for help - Call4Calm

The APA-IL encourages anyone that is feeling anxious, depressed, overwhelmed, or scared about the future because of the COVID-19 pandemic to Call4Calm. Call4Calm is a new free-of-charge emotional support service available through the Illinois Department of Human Services 24-hours a day, seven days a week. To use Call4Calm, text “TALK” for English or “HABLAR” for Spanish to 552020. A licensed counselor will reach out to you by phone within 24 hours. Call4Calm is free to use and all communication through the service is anonymous and confidential.


A special thank you to NIU's Center for Governmental Students for assistance with creating the COVID-19 Survey analysis and report.


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