Throughout its history, The City of Lake Forest has offered a diverse housing stock that permitted households and families of varying income levels to reside in the community. Neighborhoods and housing units in and around the Central Business District were built to provide modest housing for the men and women who worked on the estates or ran businesses on Western Avenue. The chauffeurs, the gardeners and the shopkeepers, to name a few, were an integral part of the community and required living in close proximity to where they worked. The West Park neighborhood, and others like it, were born out of this necessity for affordable housing in the community, as summed up in this description by local historians Arthur Miller and Shirley Paddock:
A century after its creation in 1907, the park and neighborhood have developed much as laid out by architect and planner Howard Van Doren Shaw. The area was planned with lots of “modest prices and generous terms” (5 years to pay off). The lots were sold at auction in July 1907 and could only be bought by members of The Young Men’s Club. The goal was to provide attractive modest housing to draw and retain a better class of family oriented people who were increasingly required to serve the estate community of Chicagoans here (in Lake Forest). The early lot owners and residents of the neighborhood were mostly working in small businesses or public service.
In recent decades, property values have escalated to the point of discouraging a diverse housing stock. Some families that currently live and work in Lake Forest are unable to meet or maintain the household income level necessary for homeownership in the community and, therefore, must look outside Lake Forest for housing. These households, such as seniors, families, and professionals in the field of education and healthcare among others, are part of the fabric of daily life in Lake Forest. Affordably priced senior and workforce housing opportunities will help ensure that these groups can continue to impart a direct, immediate and positive impact on the quality of life in Lake Forest.