2044 Comprehensive Plan Housing Element

Every 10 years the City is required by State law to review and update its Comprehensive Plan. This process is currently underway, with the final periodic update to be completed by December 31, 2024. This update will project out to the year 2044 to show, among other things, how the City will accommodate new population and employment growth. It is also an opportunity to make sure the Plan and Development Regulations meet current state requirements that may have changed since the last update of the Plan.

This page is for the Housing Element update. To learn more about eh general update process or other elements, visit our 2044 Comprehensive Plan Update Home Page.

What does the Housing Element address?

This Element will provide policies and guidance for addressing the housing needs of the community based on our current population and projected increases over the next twenty years.  It will address multiple aspects of housing such as existing housing conditions, supply, affordability, diversity, population growth and planning for future residents of Gig Harbor.

What recent plans and legislation influence this update?

The legislature passed House Bill 1220 in 2021, which mandated that the current update accommodate housing for all income ranges, including emergency housing and permanent supportive housing. The Department of Commerce has been tasked with analyzing the housing needs of each jurisdiction and providing for the number of units needed to achieve this goal. The housing allocation for Gig Harbor, from the Housing for All Planning Tool (HAPT) is included below:

City of Gig Harbor Housing NeedsTotalEmergency Housing0-30% AMI>30-50%>50-80%>80-100%>100-120%>120%
Estimated Housing Supply (2020)5,642 units01123169977897772,651
Additional Units Needed (2020-2024)892 units552711651315651218


Gig Harbor HAPT housing needs by income levels

Gig Harbor HAPT housing needs by income level. Source: Pierce County Countywide Planning Policies, 2022; Department of Commerce HAPT Tool, 2023; Community Attributes, Inc., 2023.

Additional legislation passed in the most recent session adds a number of new requirements that must be addressed between now and the next required periodic update. These bills include requirements for Missing Middle and accessory dwelling units (ADUs), among other changes.

What has Gig Harbor done to prepare?

In order to meet our allocation, the City hired a consultant to conduct a Housing Needs Assessment to identify existing and future housing needs to provide a foundation for policy recommendations to meet Gig Harbor’s housing needs across the income spectrum. 

The City is also a partner in the South Sound Housing Affordability Partners (SSHAP). Through this partnership, the collaborates with other South Puget Sound jurisdictions, and applied for a grant from the Department of Commerce to study Middle Housing and Racially Disparate Impacts.

Gig Harbor is not required to implement the Middle Housing requirements of HB 1110, as the population is under 25,000, the menu of policy recommendations included in the report remain useful in crafting different approaches to meeting our housing allocation requirements.

How can I participate?

The City will be hosting a series of housing outreach events in which the results of the Housing Needs Assessment and state requirements will be discussed. We look forward to hearing from the community about how we might approach achieving the goal of providing housing Gig Harbor residents over the next twenty years.

  • August 9th – 6 pm – 8 pm at the Civic Center (3510 Grandview St)
  • August 22nd – 5 pm – 7 pm at the County Library (4424 Point Fosdick Dr)
  • September 13th – 6 pm – 8 pm at Swift Water Elementary School (10811 Harbor Hill Dr)

Check Out the Housing Workshop Presentation Here

  1. Robin Bolster-Grant

    Principal Planner

Housing Needs Assessment

The Housing Needs Assessment (HNA) describes how Gig Harbor’s housing supply meets current and future needs. It is intended to be a guide for decision-makers, residents, and others that:

  1. Provides a baseline of data that explains the condition of housing in Gig Harbor.
  2. Identifies where there are shortcomings or gaps in how the current housing supply meets the needs and demands of residents now and in the future.

The HNA begins with a demographic and economic analysis organized around population level and trends, household characteristics, and employment and commuting trends which affect the demand for and price of housing. The HNA provides an analysis of current housing supply and availability, housing market conditions and trends, defines affordability and how affordability is typically measured, and examines affordability of ownership and rental housing. Lastly, the HNA compares the housing unit inventory, land capacity analysis, and forecasted growth to determine the housing needs the Comprehensive Plan must accommodate. Select graphs and analysis are excerpted below, click through to learn more.

Housing Needs Assessment Analyses

Gig Harbor Population Growth 1990-2022

Graph showing Gig Harbor's population growth from 1990-2022

Gig Harbor’s total population reached 12,540 in 2022. Almost all population growth in the previous decade was a result of natural increase and in-migration. 

According to the Pierce County population targets, the City of Gig Harbor is expected to grow by 2,200 people by 2044 and reach a total population of 14,229. This translates to an average annual growth rate of 0.6% between 2022 and 2044, which is significantly lower than the 3.1% per year between 2000 and 2022.

Population Share by Age, Gig Harbor & Pierce County, 2021

Gig Harbor's population by age as compared to Pierce County 2021

Between 1990 and 2021, Gig Harbor’s population has been aging, increasing the median age from 40.3 in 1990 to 41.8 in 2021. This is higher than Pierce County’s median age of 36.4 in 2021. Compared to Pierce County, Gig Harbor has a significantly higher share of older residents (aged 65 and older) and lower share of working age residents (20-44).

Gig Harbor Projected Population Growth 2020-2040

Graph showing Gig Harbor's projected population 2010-2040

Demographic shifts are likely to impact the housing types needed in Gig Harbor. The chart to the left summarizes growth estimates by age cohort. Gig Harbor has a higher share of senior residents and a smaller share of working age residents than the region. However, regional trends provide an indication of changes to expect. Forecasts for the region show the following changes are expected through 2040:

  • Population aged under 20 is expected to maintain a relatively consistent proportion of the population.
  • Population aged 20-44 will decrease slightly from 35% to 32%.
  • Population aged 65+ is projected to increase from 15% in 2020 to 21% in 2040.

Household Size, 1990 & 2021

Graph of household size in Gig Harbor, 1990 & 2021

In 2021, Gig Harbor had more than three times the number of households in 1990. Average household size stayed relatively steady from 1990 to 2010 (around 2.17 individuals per household) and in 2021 increased to 2.4 individuals per households. This is lower than Pierce County’s average household size of 2.7 in 2021

The average owner households in Gig Harbor had 2.7 people while the average renter household had 1.9 people. 68% of Gig Harbor households have one or two members compared to 59% of Pierce County households; and 11% of Gig Harbor’s households have three members and 22% have four or more members, compared to 17% and 24% respectively in Pierce County.

Percentage of Households by AMI & Race & Ethnicity, 2019

Percentage of households by AMI and race and ethnicity, 2019

The chart to the left distinguishes household income by race and ethnicity. White households, which make up 89% of households, have the second highest share of moderate and high-income households, with 65% earning above 80% AMI. White households also have a more evenly dispersed share of low, very low and extremely low-income households. Asian households make up 5% of total households in the city and have the highest share of low-income households, with 43% earning between 50 and 80% AMI, followed by Hispanic households with 23%. Black and Hispanic households have approximately two and three times the share of extremely low-income households, respectively, then all households taken together (17% and 27%, versus 9%).

Cost Burden by Income Range, Percent of Households, 2019

Cost burden by income range, percent of households, 2019

HUD defines a household as cost burdened if they pay between 30% and 50% of their gross household income for housing, and severely cost burdened if they pay more than 50% of their gross household income on housing (rent or mortgage, plus utilities).

Overall, 18% of Gig Harbor households are cost burdened and 15% are severely cost burdened. This is similar to the share of cost burden countywide. The likelihood of being cost burdened increases in lower income groups. Roughly 91% of households in Gig Harbor earning above 100% AMI are not cost burdened, compared to only 13% of households earning less than 30% AMI. The majority of very low-income and extremely low-income households spend more than 30% of their income on housing.

Cost Burden for Elderly Households (62+), 2019

Cost burden for elderly households, 62+

Households with older adults (62 years and older) represent a larger share of extremely low-, very low-, and low-income households. Elderly households in Gig Harbor also have a higher share of cost burdened and severely cost burdened households. Roughly 42% of elderly households pay more than 30% of their household income for housing compared to 27% for all other households. 

Distribution of Cost-Burdened Status by AMI and Tenure, 2019

Distribution of Cost-Burdened status, by AMI and tenure, 2019

The chart to the left shows a further breakdown of cost burden by income level and housing tenure. Homeowners in general are less likely to be cost burdened than renters, with 23% of homeowner households experiencing cost burden compared to 48% of renter households. Small shares of moderate- and high-income owner households are cost burdened, at 25% and 8%, respectively. Renter-occupied households have a higher likelihood of experiencing cost burden regardless of AMI level. The highest share of cost burden is among very low-income households for renter households, with 97% spending more than 30% of their income on housing.

Number of Owner and Renter Occupied Units Affordable to Each Income Level, 2015-2019

Number of Owner- and Renter-Occupied Units Affordable to Each Income Level, Gig Harbor

The chart to the left compares the distribution of households by AMI to the total number of housing units available at that same income level.

While 22% of Gig Harbor households earn less than 50% AMI only 9% of Gig Harbor’s housing stock is affordable at that income level. Gig Harbor has more housing units affordable at 50 to 80% AMI and above 80% AMI than households that earn incomes at those levels.

Net Change in Housing Unit Type, 2000-2022

Net change in housing units by type, 2000-2022

Of the total 2,831 housing units added between 2000 and 2022 (including annexations), 63% are single-family homes, and 37% are multi-family homes.

As of October 2022, the median home value in Gig Harbor was $802,187, an increase of more than 260% since 2000.

Gig Harbor has historically had higher median home values than Pierce County as a whole. Gig Harbor’s home values grew by 6% on average each year, while countywide home values increased at a 5.6% mean annual growth rate.