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Defining Gentrification and Chris Gethard: Thursday’s Show (October 8, 2015)

You may have heard Andrew Schneider’s story a week ago about a recent study from Rice University’s Shell Center for Sustainability, which found the cost of living in Houston is no longer a bargain. According to the 5th Houston Sustainability Indicators Report, Houstonians spend more than 45 percent of their income on transportation and housing, the definition the U.S. Department of Transportation uses […]

You may have heard Andrew Schneider’s story a week ago about a recent study from Rice University’s Shell Center for Sustainability, which found the cost of living in Houston is no longer a bargain. According to the 5th Houston Sustainability Indicators Report, Houstonians spend more than 45 percent of their income on transportation and housing, the definition the U.S. Department of Transportation uses to determine affordability. It’s evidence of how definitions matter — how one person or entity or report defines a term can change the very nature of debate about that term.

There was another conclusion drawn in that very same report which intrigued us. According to the press release we received about it,  Rice research fellow and report author Lester King “said his research indicates that gentrification is not really occurring” in Houston.

That would seem to run counter to conventional wisdom – not to mention a number of conversations we’ve had the last couple of years – with residents in a number of Houston neighborhoods, from Montrose to The Heights to the Third Ward. Folks there say, yes, absolutely, gentrification is occurring. In fact, King’s report examines the Third Ward, and cites population shifts, but concludes they don’t meet the report’s defined threshold of gentrification. Again, definitions matter.

How do we define “gentrification?” On this edition of Houston Matters, we talk with Lester King about how he defines it in his report, and why, and how that may differ from how others define the term.

Also: There are folks in the health care industry in Houston we often don’t think about. They’re not doctors or nurses or hospital staff or insurers, but they provide a valuable service – they translate or interpret for patients who don’t speak the same language, or are hearing impaired. Let’s face it, communication between medical staff and patients is absolutely critical. The International Language Services Conference, held Friday in Houston, will address language access for patients and caregivers. We learn more about the conference, and those services, from Melissa Kam who manages hospital operations at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, and certified American sign language interpreter Whitney Gissell.

Plus: A conversation with comedian Chris Gethard, who’s headlining this weekend’s Trill Comedy Festival at Station Theater. He’s the host of The Chris Gethard Show on Fusion. The program developed a cult following for its efforts to break from traditional TV show norms. New York Magazine likened the ten episode series to “a party on the public access airwaves.” We’ll ask him about the show, about his upcoming weekend in Houston, and about a much-ballyhooed Twitter exchange he had recently, in which he challenged the conventional warning not to “feed the trolls.”

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