Joy Diaz

City Reporter

Joy Diaz has been a reporter with KUT on and off since 2005. Since joining KUT, Joy has covered education, healthcare and immigration. She is now the station’s city reporter.

Originally from Mexico, Joy moved to the U.S. in 1998 when her husband Luis was transferred from his job in Mexico City to train workers in a telecommunications plant in Virginia. While there, Joy worked for Roanoke's NPR station WVTF.

Joy speaks English and Spanish, which is a plus in a state like Texas. She graduated from Universidad de Cuautitlán Izcalli in Mexico City with a degree in journalism. In 2008 she took a break to devote herself to her two young children, before returning to the KUT studios. She loves reading, painting and spending time engaging with the community.  

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10-1
1:33 pm
Thu October 30, 2014

The Long-Term Problems of Short-Term Rentals in District 9

Photo credits (L to R, top to bottom): Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT, City of Austin, Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT, flickr.com/photos/gold41 and Filipa Rodriguex for KUT.

Austinites are voting in 10 different geographically drawn city council districts this election. We’ve been taking a look at each of those districts.

Today, we’ll a look at District 9, a compact district that touches Oltorf and goes up through downtown and the UT campus to just south of U.S. Highway 290.

At its heart is the Clarksville neighborhood, with its historic freedman's homes. It’s one of many district neighborhoods dealing with a problem many say robs the city of revenue, disrupts neighborhoods and lowers property values in the much-coveted, centrally-located district: short term rentals.

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10-1
1:15 pm
Wed October 29, 2014

In District 8, Years of Growing Frustration Over Elusive Traffic Solutions

Photo credits (L to R, top to bottom): Filipa Rodrigues for KUT, Mary Kang/KUT, Patrick Dentler/KUT, flickr.com/photos/danatx and flickr.com/photos/dawilson

This week, KUT is continuing its look at each of the city's 10 districts and at some of their unique needs.

Today, we're looking at District 8, which includes “the Y” at Oak Hill, where State Highway 71 and U.S. Highway 290 intersect, and stretches from Brodie Lane to Circle C and then goes all the way to Southwest Parkway.

The population in the district and surrounding areas has grown 200 percent from 1990 to 2010, according to city estimates, causing traffic along major roadways here to grow in tandem.

For years, many in District 8 have pushed for an extension of State Highway 45, saying that the southwestern extension of the highway could serve as a pressure valve to relieve congestion in Southwest Austin. Others have argued against the project, citing environmental concerns.

While the project shows signs of moving forward after years in limbo, some say more innovative, less costly solutions could do the job.

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10-1
3:33 pm
Tue October 28, 2014

In District 7, Concerns About Land Use and Affordable Housing

Photo credits (L to R, top to bottom): flickr.com/photos/jimnix, flickr.com/photos/ryry9379, Erik Reyna for KUT and Wikimedia Commons

Austinites are voting in 10 different geographically drawn city council districts this election year. It’s a big change from the former at-large system.

This week, we’re continuing our look at each of the city's districts and their needs. Today, we’ll take a look at District Seven; a district that incorporates the hustle and bustle of the Domain, stretches as far south as 45th Street and as far north as Wells Branch Parkway, and includes Parmer Lane.

The district also borders a huge piece of land with a history older than the State of Texas.

The so-called Bull Creek tract has been on the minds of many in District 7 after the state indicated it would sell the land earlier this year. 

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Affordable Housing
12:14 pm
Tue October 28, 2014

For Some, Housing Vouchers a Needed Hand Toward Self-Sufficiency

Latoya Satterwhite started working at the Capital City Kids Daycare in 2011, but left the daycare. She came back after earning an associate's degree and now runs the daycare, and doesn't need Section 8 assistance anymore.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT

Thousands of people in Austin have applied for low-income housing vouchers from the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 8 program since the city's waitlist reopened last week.

It’s been eight years since the subsidized housing program's wait list has accepted new applicants. That's because of limited affordable housing stock in Austin and demand for the program.

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10-1
1:28 pm
Mon October 27, 2014

After a Boom in Traffic, Commuters Hope District 6 Can Find a Cure for Congestion

Photo credits (L to R, top to bottom): flickr.com/craigallenphotography, flickr.com/byeagle, flickr.com/lemonfilmblog, Filipa Rodrigues for KUT

Austinites are voting in 10 different geographically drawn city council districts this election year. It’s a big change from the former at-large system.

This week, we’re continuing our look at each of the city's districts and their needs. Today, we look at District 6, a district that is geographically one of the longest, stretching from Lake Travis all the way to Jollyville on the Austin-Round Rock border.

Ranch to Market Road 620 follows the rocky canyons and rolling hills of District 6, snaking through most of the district's western edge the district.

But District 6 is much more than postcard scenery. It's a district made largely of commuters.

And what’s a marquee issue those voters care about? Traffic.

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10-1
12:22 pm
Fri October 24, 2014

Ever-Present Development Divides a Transforming District 5

All photos courtesy of the City of Austin except for the bottom left and top right photos, which are courtesy of Anna Gonzalez and flickr.com/Bill78704

Austinites are voting in 10 different geographically drawn city council districts this fall. And, with such a big change, we've been taking a closer look at each district.

Today, we look at District 5, which stretches from Onion Creek in South Austin to parts of Auditorium Shores downtown. At its heart is South Lamar, where lots of new construction is coming up, but this flurry of development is just the beginning.

The district and surrounding areas are currently planning to re-develop each of its neighborhoods into something called the "South Austin Combined Neighborhood Plan,” which hopes to plan for inevitable future development, while preserving South Austin neighborhoods.

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10-1
11:44 am
Thu October 23, 2014

Commercial Vacancies Could Provide a Foundation for Growth in District 4

Photo are courtesy of (counter clockwise) flickr.com/annharkness, Audrey McGlinchy for KUT, John Shapley for KUT, Joy Diaz/KUT

Austin's new city council District 4 is one of the city's most compact districts, geographically speaking. It's easy to define as North Central Austin. One recognizable spot is Highland Mall, which, after its closure, started a chain of building closures and subsequent vacancies in the area.

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10-1
2:07 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

Austin's New District 2 Council Member Faces an Old Problem: Infrastructure

Photos courtesy of (counter-clockwise) John Shapley/KUT, Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon (top left and middle left), Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT, Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT, Bryan Winter/KUT

As Austin voters head to the polls this Election Day they'll choose a city council candidate to represent their own geographic district.

So far, many of the candidates have promised to be the "voice" of their district and to fight for district-specific needs at City Hall. All this week and next, we’re looking at each of the city's ten districts to look at each district's unique needs.

Circuit of the Americas is one of the landmarks of District 2 – Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is in there too.

The district is long, stretching from Southeast Austin off of Highway 71 and
east of I-35. Last summer Ron Potts, who had recently retired from the city's Code Compliance Department, took KUT on a tour of the district.

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10-1
2:24 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

How Transportation & Investment Could Bring New Opportunities to Austin's District 1

All photos are courtesy of Filipa Rodrigues for KUT except the bottom center which is courtesy of Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Today, KUT starts taking a look at each of Austin's ten districts -- and their unique needs.

This is the first time Austinites will elect their council members from the city's newly drawn geographic districts.

District One stretches from Central Austin, north to Howard Lane and into the vast open fields east of State Highway 130.

It's also called the "African American Opportunity District," because it's the district with the largest share of African American voters in the city.

Eric Tang with UT Austin's Institute for Urban Policy, Research and Analysis released a report earlier this year detailing why Austin is the only major US city that over the last decade has seen a decline in its African American population. Tang says African Americans "face persistent inequalities" in three major areas: public education, policing and the job market.

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Ebola
2:02 pm
Fri October 17, 2014

UT-Austin Student Being Monitored for Ebola Symptoms, Has Low Risk of Infection (Update)

Credit Todd Wiseman/Phil Moyer via Texas Tribune

Officials from the University of Texas at Austin and Travis County say a female UT-Austin student was on board the Frontier Airlines flight from Cleveland to Dallas which carried the Dallas area Ebola-affected nurse Amber Vinson.

The Travis County Health and Human Services Department is monitoring for symptoms of Ebola.  The student was not in close contact with Vinson and she is not showing symptoms of the virus. Officials urge there’s a “low risk” she contracted the virus because she was out of the three-foot radius around Vinson referred to as the "zone of concern" by officials.

The student will not attend classes at UT-Austin until after Nov. 3, according to UT Campus Safety and Security.

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Austin
4:43 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

Austin’s Female Illusionists Becoming Socially, and Economically, Empowered

Both Kimberly and Gisette Deseo identify as female illussionists. They are "drag sisters." While their transformations can cost a bundle, their spending also contributes to a growing, economically-empowered drag and trans community in Austin.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT

Traditional wisdom and cultural tropes might lead you to believe that women in Texas outspend their male counterparts when it comes to personal care items, clothing, and accessories.

That stereotype is mostly true, but in Austin there’s a growing group of men that might be bucking that trend: female illusionists. Some are transitioning into another gender. Others dress like females for fun or for show. 

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Border & Immigration
9:10 am
Thu October 9, 2014

Report: 'Systemic' Problems in Groups Overseeing Central American Migrants

A report calls problems within the Karnes County Residential Center "systemic," and expresses concern about a forthcoming immigrant detention facility opening in Dilley next month.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

A report released yesterday documents what it calls "systemic" problems in the two private prison companies the federal government hires to house undocumented Central American mothers and their children.

The report alleges detainees are being sexually harassed by guards in the recently-opened Karnes County Residential Center, which is run by the GEO Group, and expresses concern about a forthcoming center opening in Dilley next month, which will be run by CCA.

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Crime & Justice
11:17 am
Wed October 8, 2014

Big Impact and Little Payouts in Austin's Small Claims Courts

A judge awarded Veronica Avila Zavala $6,900 of the $12,000 she claimed a fake attorney stole from her, but has so far only received $900.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT

Most probably couldn't articulate what a justice of the peace exactly does.

Television shows like “Judge Judy” and “The People’s Court” often trivialize the role of justices of the peace and the small claims courts they preside over.

Five small courtrooms of the Travis County justices of the peace handle settlements of $10,000 or less. In the grand scheme of things, the settlements are miniscule, hence the moniker of “small claims," but for some the rulings in these courts have huge implications.

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Austin
2:06 pm
Mon October 6, 2014

Efforts Gear Up to Reconnect Owners with Stolen Bikes

Ausitn Police hope a planned registry will reduce the number of recovered, but unclaimed, bikes that are later sold at city auctions.
KUT

Just as Austin has a thriving bicycling community, it's also home to bike thieves. Both groups stay pretty active. 

The city is perennially one of the worst cities nationwide when it comes to bicycle thefts, and the Austin Police Department wants to change that by beginning a program to register bikes, allowing the city to track stolen bikes and bolster reports of bike theft.

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2014 Elections
2:24 pm
Thu October 2, 2014

Could a New, Rail-Averse City Council Derail Prop 1?

A new proposal to build a light rail line in Austin isn't well-liked among City Council candidates.
Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

Austin voters are facing two major decisions this November.

First, Austinites will elect a new city council from brand new geographic districts, and voters will also decide whether to borrow $600 million to build a light rail line.

But, with so many City Hall hopefuls running on Prop 1-bashing stump speeches, what happens if voters approve the measure, and the next council has to implement policy they’ve sworn against?

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Austin
1:50 pm
Thu October 2, 2014

CPS Fires 3 Employees for Failing to Act in Colton Turner Case

Credit Texas Tribune

Child Protective Services has fired three caseworkers for failing to protect Colton Turner, the 2 year-old whose body was found buried in Southeast Austin last month. 

Colton Turner's mother, Meagan Work, and her boyfriend, Michael Brandt Turner, had been the subjects of four CPS investigations. Allegations included excessive drug use and the toddler's physical and sexual abuse.

Today, CPS spokesperson Patrick Crimmins called it a "very difficult case, a very tragic case."

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Affordable Housing
11:02 am
Thu October 2, 2014

Austin Bans Discrimination Against Voucher-Holding Renters (Update)

City council will vote on an ordinance that would make it illegal for landlords to deny rental applicants on Section 8 housing vouchers.
Wells Dunbar/KUT News

Austin’s long on housing stock, but the city's still struggling to expand affordable housing options across Austin.

Today, the Austin City Council passed an ordinance to “create” more affordable housing units by requiring existing apartments to accept Section 8 housing vouchers – subsidies from the Department of Housing and Urban Development that can pay up to 70 percent of rent for low-income, disabled and elderly tenants.

The ordinance increases options for Section 8 holders ninefold, but some landlords aren’t happy about it.

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Austin
10:00 am
Tue September 16, 2014

Could Lyft & Uber Soon Be Legal in Austin?

The battle between ride-sharing companies and the city has been going on for years, but a new proposal could allow the services to function within the law.
flickr.com/photos/raidokaldma

As of right now, ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft aren’t exactly legal.

They operate, sure, but the services' drivers face fines of up to $1,500 if they're caught driving-while-ride-sharing. While some tout the apps as a convenient alternative to cabs, many, including the City of Austin, argue the drivers don’t face the same regulatory and safety standards as their cabbie counterparts.

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Border & Immigration
8:59 am
Mon September 15, 2014

After Crossing Four Borders, Migrant Family Faces Two More Critical Battles

Sara Beltran-Rodriguez's daughter Neyely has a brain tumor. She's spent the last three years in and out of hospitals. Karnes County Residential Center granted the family temporary medical asylum.

Last month, hundreds of children who were attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border – many of them unaccompanied on their journey – were moved to a family detention center south of San Antonio.

The Karnes County Residential Center houses hundreds of immigrants that, as of now, stand little chance of being released from the facility.

In many cases, immigrants have been priced out of their release bonds, with some bonds as high as $25,000. In effect, the detainees have been denied the release, except for one family.

Sara Beltran Rodriguez and her daughter were the first to be released from the facility. And while they’ve traveled thousands of miles and crossed several borders on their journey to Texas, the family has another life-threatening battle to fight.

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2014 Elections
11:23 am
Mon September 8, 2014

As State & City Campaigns Ramp Up, County Races Remain Dormant

Travis County races don't typically draw the same profile as their statewide and city campaign counterparts.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

It’s election season and races are in full-swing. Whether it’s the governor’s race or the 78 candidates running for Austin City Council, candidates are busy attending rallies and debates.

But, with Election Day less than two months away, why haven't races at the county level been as active?

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