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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Memorial Day Floods
11:14 am
Tue May 26, 2015

At Least 2 Dead, 13 Missing in Hays County After Floods

A home in Wimberley swept away by record flooding on the Blanco River.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Texas Governor Greg Abbott took a helicopter tour of the areas devastated by weekend floods yesterday, which culminated in a disaster declaration in 24 counties in Texas. Hundreds of families in Wimberley lost everything, and more than 1,000 were in shelters Monday night. Two are confirmed dead in Hays County.

Update 3:30 p.m. Earlier today, 30 were still unaccounted for in the county, but sources are starting to report that most of those have been contacted. Thirteen are supposedly still missing.

Update 3 p.m. Gov. Abbott has added 8 more counties to the state disaster declaration. You can view a full list of counties, and the governor's statement, here.

Update 1:15 p.m. In a press conference in Wimberley this afternoon, Hays County officials said that there are still 30 people unaccounted for in the wake of the weekend's storms. Hays County Commissioner called the storm a "tsunami." President Obama declared Texas an official disaster area, which opens the door to the state receiving federal funding for recovery.

Original story: Still, after a record flood of the Blanco River, more rain is expected to fall throughout the week as those in the town continue rescue and clean-up efforts.

But, yesterday, one family celebrated Memorial Day as they always do – together – in spite of the floods that ravaged their home.

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Small Town Texas
10:34 am
Tue May 19, 2015

Could Artists Revive Downtown Florence?

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

If you’re heading north on I-35, just past Georgetown you’ll find Florence, Texas.

The town of a little more than a thousand people is experiencing big changes.

It used to be a vibrant little town, in part because drivers needed to go through it on their way to Killeen. About 18,000 cars used to drive through Florence’s Main Street everyday — but not anymore.

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Texas
10:27 am
Fri May 15, 2015

Will Texas Lawmakers Close Austin's School for Adults with Developmental Disabilities?

Locals gathered at the Living Center in March for a rally protesting the residential facility's potential closure.
KUT News

It's been almost 100 years since the state school opened its doors to adults with severe developmental disabilities. Today the state school is called Austin State Supported Living Center, and it's facing closure via two bills in the legislature: Senate Bill 204 and House Bill 2699.

The process started last summer when the state's Sunset Advisory Commission, the group of legislators who study which state agencies are obsolete, decided the school needed to close. Despite opposition from the parents and guardians of the 215 people who live at the school, the bills are steadily inching their way through the legislative process.

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Texas
11:28 am
Wed May 13, 2015

Why Austin's City Attorney Keeps an Eye on the Texas Legislature

For now, City Attorney Karen Kennard hopes that none of the bills that would affect Austin make it through the whole legislative process and end up on Gov. Greg Abbott's desk.
Callie Hernandez/KUT News

Every legislative session, there are bound to be bills targeting some regulation or other in Austin.

Which is why every session, Austin City Attorney Karen Kennard heads to the Capitol to learn more about the bills and to see if their impact on Austin would be positive or negative. These are her projections.

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Austin
10:16 am
Wed May 13, 2015

3 Reasons Why Decker Lake Golf May Not Be the Best Economic Driver for East Austin

A rendering of the club house for the proposed golf course on Walter E. Long Lake, also known as Decker Lake, from architects Norr.
Norr, via City of Austin

It's far from a done deal, but a golf course may be coming to Distict 1 in East Austin.

The Austin City Council is not ready to make a final decision on the course at Walter E. Long Lake proposed by Decker Lake Golf LLC, so in the meantime, several city committees are considering the proposal.

This week, the city's Economic Development Committee showed some support for the golf course, precisely because District 1 is in dire need of economic development.

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Austin
10:55 am
Mon May 11, 2015

Learning Fair Housing Laws is 'Due Diligence' for Austin's New Landlords

As the demand for housing increases in Austin, some property owners are taking on the role of landlord.
Jon Shapley/KUT News

It’s no secret that there's not enough housing in Austin. The city has few homes with more than three bedrooms, and it doesn't have enough affordable housing.

There’s even a scarcity of upscale homes. Rents have risen as that market has gotten tighter, too. Has the housing demand led more landlords to engage in unfair housing practices?

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Austin
8:00 am
Thu May 7, 2015

In Legal Limbo, Mobile Home Residents Organize to Take on Landlords

Gloria Cordova, president of the newly created homeowners association at Stonegate Mobile Home Park, speaks with an APD officer. Officer Jason Murray told residents that even though they were peaceful he still needed to file a report.
Joy Diaz/KUT News

Something new is happening in several mobile home communities in Austin. Over the last month, at least two such communities have established new neighborhood associations. And this week, one of them filed a lawsuit against the company that owns the land where their mobile homes are.

Residents at Stonegate Mobile Home Park in North Central Austin say they can't stand their living conditions anymore.

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Texas
2:49 pm
Tue May 5, 2015

Could Cinco de Mayo Become an Official US Holiday?

This monument of General Ignacio Zaragoza is to the south of Goliad, one of the oldest towns in Texas. Zaragoza was the hero of the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.
mlhradio/flickr

As time goes by, the Mexican holiday Cinco de Mayo seems to be turning more into a Texas celebration. Sure, Texas used to be Mexico — and that's in part why there's a shared tradition. But some wonder if the tradition could become exclusive to Texas.

Hernan Jaso likes to claim Texas should have some exclusivity to Cinco de Mayo because, "General Ignacio Zaragoza was born in what is now Goliad, Texas."

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Austin
12:53 pm
Mon May 4, 2015

As Austinites Move to City's Outskirts, Support Services Follow

As people move outside of Austin proper, some social services and non-profits are moving with them.
KUT News

Central Austin is experiencing what some have called an exodus of sorts: Higher housing prices and other factors have pushed entire communities out.

Over the last decade, some have migrated to northern suburbs like Round Rock and Pflugerville or south to Kyle, Buda and San Marcos. But up until now, the services many of those people rely on have stayed put in downtown Austin.

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Texas
12:36 pm
Thu April 30, 2015

Unlike Other Coming-of-Age Celebrations, Quinceañeras Remain Mostly Offline

Jennifer Santillan was born in the year 2000, meaning that this year she celebrated her Quinceañera.
Joy Diaz/KUT News

A lot was going on in the year 2000: Computer experts were trying to fix Y2K, and it was the first time a Latino artist topped the charts: Ricky Martin with the song "Livin' La Vida Loca."

It was also a big year for births: Nearly 400,000 girls were born to Hispanic parents that year. This year those girls are turning 15, and they'll be celebrating their Quinceañeras.

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Texas
1:10 pm
Wed April 29, 2015

International Group Aims to Help Children of Incarcerated Parents

Texas has one of the highest incarceration rates in the nation.
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

More than half of U.S. prison inmates are parents of children under 18 years old, according to U.S. Department of Justice statistics from 2007. A new international group is looking to help the children of those incarcerated parents in the U.S. and abroad.

No matter the crime, children of those sent to jail are affected in big ways — often sharing the attitudes and behaviors of their imprisoned parents.

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Texas
11:41 am
Wed April 29, 2015

Why SCOTUS' Hearing on Midazolam May Affect Texas Executions

The U.S. Supreme Court is considering today whether the lethal injection drug Midazolam, which is not currently used in Texas, constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. The drug has not been proven to deliver a pain-free execution experience.
Calif. Dep. of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on the three-drug combination used in Oklahoma executions.

At issue is whether the use of one of the drugs, Midazolam, constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, since it is not proven to prevent the person being executed from feeling pain.

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Austin
4:59 pm
Fri April 24, 2015

Can City Officials Create a Level Playing Field for Cab, Uber and Lyft Drivers?

Raido Kalma/flickr

Many things have changed in the five years since the Austin City Council last approved a contract with taxi franchises.

For one, ride service companies like Uber and Lyft have become more of a norm than an anomaly. Still, cab companies say their drivers are not operating on a level playing field when it comes to regulations.

Now, the Austin City Council, for the first time, says it's going to do an analysis of exactly how level the field is.

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Austin
10:59 am
Wed April 22, 2015

Why Your Speeding Ticket Doesn’t Pay For What You Think it Does

When Austinites pay traffic tickets and fines, where does that money end up?
Sarah Jasmine Montgomery/KUT

Travis County and the City of Austin take part in a regular fiscal dance with the State of Texas over who pays the costs of government. Over the next three days, KUT News and the Austin Monitor will look at key examples of that interaction in our series, “The Buck Starts Here.” Today, we take on Austin’s Municipal Courts. 

When Austin residents are handed traffic tickets or other Municipal Court fees and fines, they likely assume that the city is profiting handsomely from those often colorful sheets of paper. If they could see where those revenues go, however, they might come to a different conclusion.

In fact, the city’s current budget projects that the court will face a roughly $3.7 million shortfall in the fiscal year that started in October by incurring about $19.7 million in general expenses and pulling in about $16 million in general revenue. On top of that, it projects that the court will fall short in three of its special revenue funds and break even on the fourth.

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Texas
12:33 pm
Tue April 21, 2015

Immigration Attorneys Prepare to Represent Detained Women in Asylum Cases

Immigration attorneys take notes in a mock courtroom. The attorneys are undergoing training to represent women and children in asylum cases.
Joy Diaz/KUT News

For the mothers and children detained at an immigrant facility in Karnes County, about 100 miles south of Austin, their best chance for release is to find attorneys willing to represent them pro bono.

And in turn, the lawyers willing to take on these cases need specific training. So this week at the University of Texas School of Law, a group of immigration attorneys attended a training session to brush up on the type of asylum cases faced by the women and children housed at Karnes County Residential Center.

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Austin
3:26 pm
Wed April 15, 2015

Update: Immigrant Affairs Commission Appointee Steps Down

Rebecca Forest speaks at a 2011 anti-immigration rally.
Screenshot from Youtube.

Update Wednesday, April 15, 2015, 3:30 p.m. Council member Don Zimmerman confirmed that Rebecca Forest has stepped down from her appointment to the Immigrant Affairs Commission.

Of Forest's remarks, made at the 2011 rally (see the youtube video below), Zimmerman said, "I don't judge Rebecca Forest by a clumsy remark. I judge her based on ten years of knowing her, and she's not a bigoted person."

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Texas
11:02 am
Wed April 15, 2015

How One Family is Preparing for the Closure of Austin's State Supported Living Center

Judi Stonedale visits her daughter Julie last year.
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

Almost 100 years after the day it opened, the Austin State Supported Living Center (SSLC), a home for adults with severe developmental disabilities, is scheduled to close in 2017.

The Legislature's Sunset Commission ordered its closure during the last legislative session. But the order still needed legislative approval.

That approval came from the Senate this week, in the form of Senate Bill 204. And the House is expected to follow suit.

Read more
Austin City Council
11:39 am
Tue April 14, 2015

Adler's First State of the City Breaks With the Past in More Ways Than One

Mayor Steve Adler delivered his first State of the City address last night.
Credit Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

It's been 100 days since the new Austin City Council and Mayor Steve Adler took office, and last night Adler delivered his first State of the City address.

It was a packed and very diverse event — with nearly a thousand in attendance — which was a change of pace from the typically subdued addresses of the past.

While the event was free and open to the public, it wasn't free for the Mayor. As he told reporters afterwards, he and his wife paid to rent AISD's Performing Arts Center for the occasion. While he didn't say how much it cost, he did say he also footed the bill for a set from Austin musician Max Frost, who performed "White Lies," perhaps a curious choice for a political event.

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Austin
10:13 am
Fri April 10, 2015

Shorter Library Hours Pose a Problem for Voters on Election Days

Austin voters sometimes face 'irregular' hours at polling places, especially since libraries have cut back their hours. Pictured here: Voters head into the Pan American Center in November.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

This is normally a busy time of year for anyone involved with city elections in Austin. Some school districts and local governments in the area have things on the ballot.

But it's the first time Austinites will not be voting for city council in May, and this new timing may help solve a city-wide voting challenge: finding an open polling place.

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Texas
12:04 pm
Wed April 8, 2015

Texas Lawmakers Make Push to Raise Minimum Wage

Seven bills propose raising the state's minimum wage, which is currently set at $7.25 an hour.
Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

This legislative session, Texas lawmakers are considering seven bills dealing with raising the state's minimum wage.

One of the bills would bring it up from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour for an estimated 2.4 million Texans. But there are pros and cons to raising the state's minimum wage.

Read more

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