Joy Diaz

Senior Reporter, City Government

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 a Senior Reporter covering the city beat.

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.  

Ways To Connect

Kathryn Decker/flickr

Have you ever applied for a job where they ask you to check a box if you have a criminal record?

Over the summer, Austin's District 4 City Council member Greg Casar put together a group to look for ways Austin businesses could change that practice, or, “ban the box.”

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

Ten years ago tomorrow, Hurricane Katrina made landfall and displaced thousands along the Gulf Coast. Many of the storm’s survivors came to Austin, to the Austin Convention Center. Timothy Jones was one of the displaced, but his first home in Austin wasn’t the convention center. It was a hospital and now, a decade later, he’s still recovering from his own trauma the storm left in its wake.

Joy Diaz/KUT

This week, Mayor Steve Adler announced a push to house all of Austin's homeless veterans by Veterans Day. The initiative, called House our Heroes, will focus on assisting the 200 servicemen and women who now live in Austin's streets.

Austin's total homeless population, however, is much larger than 200, and some advocates hope Adler's initiative is the beginning of a movement that could end all homelessness in Austin.

John Shapley/KUT

Austin Mayor Steve Adler has announced a plan for ending homelessness among military veterans in Austin by Veterans Day this year.

City of Austin

One of the city's former landfills in South East Austin is about to get a facelift. The city will soon transform the area into an industrial hub focused exclusively on the recycling and reuse industries.

The goal is to attract companies like Mexico-based Grupo Simplex.

Joy Diaz/KUT News

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Justice said criminalizing people who are homeless for sleeping in public places is unconstitutional. However, Austin’s had a “no sit/no lie” ordinance since the early ‘90s that bans homeless people from lying down on city sidewalks and sleeping in public.

While sleeping on public benches is legal, in the past few years the city’s cut back on the number of benches.

Guatemalan Activist Granted Stay of Deportation

Aug 18, 2015
Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

Sulma Franco, an LGBTQ activist from Guatemala, was granted a stay of deportation today by immigration officials in San Antonio. She traveled this morning from Austin to San Antonio with a group of activists and supporters to submit her application for the stay.

Franco had been facing deportation, and since June she'd been living in sanctuary at Austin's First Unitarian Universalist Church. Franco requested asylum in the U.S., but was denied based on a “clerical error,” according to activists working for her cause.

In Guatemala, LGBTQ activists have been targeted and killed, Franco argued. She says that she feared for her life there.

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

The City of Austin is doing a survey through the first week in September called the Asian-American Quality of Life Initiative. The idea is to find ways to improve the experience of Asian-Americans, the city's fastest growing ethnic group. While the City of Austin is not new to quality of life initiatives, the results and recommendations of the studies traditionally take a long time to come to fruition.

The All-Nite Images/flickr

More than 360,000 Texans make $7.25 an hour or less, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Only five states have a higher percentage of minimum wage workers than Texas.

Big corporations like Walmart and McDonalds recognize that, for many workers, $7.25 an hour isn’t enough to live on. Both companies have announced they'll increase their workers' pay this year.

But what happens when wages go up, and they're still not enough to live on?

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

The Austin Animal Center is finally fully staffed: Tawny Hammond, who just moved to Austin from Fairfax, Virginia, has taken over as the city's new Chief Animal Services Officer. 

Hammond's new job involves getting to know her bosses on the Austin City Council, like East Austin representative Ora Houston. Recently, after meeting some of the staff, Hammond sat with Houston to learn about the specific animal needs of the council member's East Austin district. Hammond says she's learned some districts in Austin have a large number of homeless animals. 

Hammond says there are three things she wants to do in her new role.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

Mary Blackstock has no idea when she learned how to swim. In fact, the Louisiana native says she doesn't remember "ever not knowing how to swim."

Blackstock, 88, was born in between the great wars. Her father was a dentist, her mother, a stay-at-home mom. She says her mother couldn't swim and was afraid of the water. But her father's family owned a paddle-boat. They transported sugar cane and cattle to New Orleans. The family home was on a hill at Babylon Bayou, and that's where Mary Blackstock and her siblings would swim every evening — but only when her father was home from work. He was the one who would throw the kids in the water.

Swimming, Blackstock says, changed her life.

Nathan Bernier/KUT News

VonTrey Clark, the Austin Police Officer linked to a murder in Bastrop earlier this year, is now in FBI custody in Indonesia.

Clark was given an indefinite suspension of duty last month after he refused to attend an in-person interview related to the Bastrop murder investigation. But before he was suspended, Clark spent several months on "restricted duty" with APD.

But what does being on “restricted duty” actually mean?

flickr.com/photos/tabor-roeder

Seventy-three children died in Texas last year from a single cause. And so far this year, 56 children have died as a result of that same cause: drowning.

And, while there are efforts at both the statewide and local levels to educate adults on how to avoid drowning deaths, children of color are disproportionately represented among the victims.

Charlotte Carpenter

Back-to-school shopping is not for the faint of heart.

To the uninitiated, it may seem like total madness.

But, really, it's family time: parents read school lists out loud while children run around in search of items. It's also a time children in foster care rarely experience, but, for the first time, a non-profit is trying to provide children in foster care with a similar experience.

Brad Flickinger/flickr

Federal housing officials were in Austin Tuesday — not to give direction,  but to learn from the local housing authority's successes in closing the digital divide. The federal government is taking a model for digital inclusion from Austin to other cities around the country.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

There are thousands of rental properties in Austin – after all, most people who live in Austin rent – and of those thousands, there are more than two dozen that have racked up 300 code violations from the City of Austin. A new study provides suggestions on how to handle the so-called “repeat offenders.”

The study’s author argues that the city could be focusing more on these violations, rather than dedicating more Code Compliance resources towards the policing of short-term rentals.

Google Maps

When you hear the words "Mexican immigrant," what image pops into your head? 

Maybe you're picturing a male day laborer. But Rogelio Saenz from the University of Texas at San Antonio says the latest data does not reflect that.

"Women are becoming​ much more a part of the Mexican immigrant population," Saenz says.

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

A federal judge ruled Friday in favor of immigrant rights lawyers who have said the current detention of immigrant children violates a court settlement from 1997 known as the Flores vs Meese Agreement. U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee issued her decision in California.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has yet to announce how it will proceed. DHS recently changed the rules of how it releases mothers and children currently in detention. 

Screenshot courtesy of Bunker Labs Austin

Coming to Austin Tuesday: Shark Tank, the television show wherein small business owners pitch their ideas to wealthy investors. The show's searching Central Texas this week for a particular kind of businessperson: veterans.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

If anyone runs into National Guard personnel in Texas, they pretty much look like any military personnel dressed in their camouflage fatigues. But, up until now, the biggest difference was that they were not armed.

That's about to change: Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced this weekend that the Texas National Guard will now carry weapons while at military facilities across Texas.

Governor Abbott said this new measure is in response to last week's shooting in two military installations in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

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