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.  

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Texas
11:28 am
Wed March 18, 2015

To Prevent the Next Crisis, CPS Seeks 'Upstream' Solution

Joseph B/flickr

The challenges facing Child Protective Services in Texas are well known. The agency is underfunded and never seems to have enough personnel to adequately care for the thousands of children in its system.

But, this year, the agency did something different: CPS is looking for ways to prevent crises from happening in the first place.

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SXSW
3:56 pm
Tue March 17, 2015

One Year After the SXSW Crash, A Survivor Returns to the Hospital to Say 'Thank You'

A little less than a year ago, Mason Endres (pictured here with her parents Dan and May) was undergoing therapy after being hit by an intoxicated driver at last year's SXSW.
Jon Shapley/KUT News

Mason Endres still needs a knee brace to walk. She's one of the 23 survivors of the car crash that killed four people at South by Southwest last year. Endres set aside this morning to visit St. David's Hospital and thank the staff for her recovery.

May Endres, Mason's mom, corralled a big group of doctors and nurses for a photo. 

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Border & Immigration
8:10 am
Mon March 16, 2015

After Suicide Attempts, Advocates Draft Petition to End Immigrant Detention

A view of the Karnes County Detention Center shortly after its opening in July 2014.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

There's a new petition making the rounds through Texas and the United States.

Its goal is to end the incarceration of immigrant mothers and children. A catalyst for the petition was a recent wave of suicide attempts by some of the women in detention in facilities in Texas.

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SXSW 2015
9:31 am
Fri March 13, 2015

Families of Lethal SXSW Crash Victims Demand 'Significant' Changes

Families of the victims of last year's fatal SXSW crash are demanding that the festival improve the way it handles the huge crowds and vehicle traffic.
KUT News

Today marks the one-year anniversary in the crash at SXSW that killed four people.

One of them was musician and Amsterdam-based producer Steven Craenmehr.

KUT's Joy Diaz reports Craenmehr's family has sued the festival and wants it to make significant changes to the way it handles crowds.

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SXSW 2015
12:22 pm
Thu March 12, 2015

A Year After Fatal Crash, Austin Implements New SXSW Safety Measures

The aftermath of last year's crash during SXSW, which left four people dead.
Ashley Park/KUT News

It’s been almost a year since Rashad Owens drove his car into SXSW festivalgoers after a late-night show. Four people died, and another 23 were injured during the police chase of Owens on March 13 last year.

For this year's festival, the city of Austin and the Austin Police Department say they are not taking any chances.

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Crime & Justice
11:27 am
Wed March 11, 2015

ACLU Asks Justice Department to Investigate Texas Prison Riot

The ACLU is calling for a Department of Justice investigation into last month's riot at a prison in Raymondville.
Caleb Bryant Miller/KUT News

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wants the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate last month's riot at a private immigrant prison in Raymondville, Tex. That's because the ACLU does not believe the prison is able to do a good job investigating itself.

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Austin
9:42 am
Tue March 10, 2015

Mobile Home Residents Feel Threatened by New Developments. Are Their Fears Real or Imaginary?

Alice Smith was kicked out of her apartment last year. After a friend helped her finance this trailer, she moved in to a park near the Montopolis Bridge.
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

Most Austin residents are renters and, chances are, you might be a renter yourself.

But some Austinites living in trailer parks aren’t necessarily guaranteed the perks of a leasing agreement and, as residential and commercial development sprawls across the city, some worry landlords may cash out and sell off parks.

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Austin
9:20 am
Mon March 9, 2015

Why Are Most Austin RV and Mobile Home Parks Invisible?

Per city ordinance, RV’s and mobile homes can’t share the same property, yet they often do. The ordinance is from the 1960s, but many parks go back as far as the 1940s. The ordinance doesn't apply to them, because older properties were grandfathered.
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

If you've lived in Austin for a few years, you're probably familiar with the Pecan Grove RV Park. It's where actor Matthew McConaughey "lived" for years. It's a well-kept park that has even become a tourist attraction.

But it's the exception when considering the city's other RV and mobile home parks.

Most parks live a hidden existence of disrepair and neglect.

One reason why we seldom hear about them in Austin is because they are purposely kept under the radar.

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Austin
5:09 pm
Wed March 4, 2015

Despite Decline in Homeless Numbers, Many Still Seek Refuge Under Austin's Bridges

Austin's homeless population numbers are decreasing, according to an annual count.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

The homeless population in Austin is getting smaller.

At least that's what the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO) found in its annual count of people who are homeless last month. But the population is still in the hundreds.

One of the reasons the non-profit is citing for the decline is a small but steady increase in affordable housing in Austin.

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Austin
4:04 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

In Push For More Staff, Some See Effort to Increase Mayor’s Power

Credit Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT News

Austin Mayor Steve Adler has been pushing an idea for weeks now: He needs more staff. Adler says this city council has set some big goals and that it will be really difficult to achieve them without more staff.

There's been tension building for weeks. And as much as Adler explains his point of view, the council is still failing to see things through his eyes.

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Business
8:38 am
Fri February 27, 2015

Why the Central Texas Construction Boom Isn't Benefitting Everyone

Unlike many workers, Armando Guerrero, 42, says he's staying with a smaller contractor because, while his wages are less than those at larger firms, his work is consistent.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT News

It seems like everywhere you look, there's a construction site in Austin, complete with the unofficial state bird of Texas, the construction crane.

Some are calling it a boom, but it's a boom that’s not exclusive to Austin. Whether you drive south to San Marcos or north to Georgetown, there are new buildings popping up all over Central Texas.

That boom has certainly been good for the economy and overall employment numbers, but, for some smaller construction firms it’s been tough-going trying to compete with larger outfits that can afford to pay workers up to $35 an hour.

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Texas
9:43 am
Thu February 26, 2015

How Many Construction Workers Die in Texas Every Year?

Workers rights' supporters gathered at the J. J. Pickle Federal Building to commemorate construction workers who died while working.
Miguel Gutierrez, Jr./KUT News

Advocates for workers' rights say that Texas leads the nation in construction deaths. Some believe the majority of accidents, and even deaths, go unreported due to the legal status of many construction workers.

One of the few studies on the topic is from the Center for Public Policy Priorities, a left-leaning think-tank in Austin. In 2007, the CPPP found 142 documented deaths of construction workers in Texas. The second state with the most deaths was California with 81.

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Austin
1:07 pm
Wed February 25, 2015

Plans for Lamar Beach? New Council Says: Not So Fast

Renderings of former plans for the Lamar Beach area.
Austin Aquatic Center/flickr

The area around Lamar Beach, along Cesar Chavez near MoPac, is beautiful but hard to redevelop. It floods, and there are utilities running under and over it.

But the YMCA, the animal shelter now run by Austin Pets Alive and a sports organization are still able to use it.

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Austin
9:00 am
Wed February 25, 2015

Council Wonders How to Pay for Additional Staff

Callie Hernandez/KUT News

Austin Mayor Steve Adler wants to hire more staff. The rationale for his request: The city's needs are great and need more people to be solved. City Council members agree with that. What they don't agree on is how to pay for additional staff.

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Immigration
9:30 am
Tue February 24, 2015

Feds Ask Court to Move Forward with Immigration Program, Perhaps Without Texas

Gov. Greg Abbott appeared on Fox News Sunday to talk about Texas' resistance to the Obama administration's Deferred Action Program.

The Obama administration wants to move forward with its Deferred Action Program that would shield some illegal immigrants from deportation. But a federal court halted the administration's program last week.

On Monday, the administration asked the court to lift last week's order. In its request, the administration is offering options: Let the program go forward nationwide or let it go forward everywhere except in Texas.

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Austin City Council
8:50 am
Thu February 19, 2015

Council Looks to Work Out Kinks in New Meeting Process

Long lines and deep crowds are nothing new to those familiar with Austin City Council meetings, but a new meeting structure aims to cut down on the council's historically long meeting times.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Officially, the Austin City Council meets every other week. This would've been an off week. But, this new council has so much to learn and so much to do that unofficially, it meets virtually all the time.

In a special called meeting today, the council will try to work out how the new meetings system will work.

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Life & Arts
11:34 pm
Sat February 14, 2015

How Music Kept a Love Strong for 70 Years

This is the bass fiddle Roland Johnson's father bought for him back in 1943. It was a time of scarcity, so, it has no metallic adornments. He loves the instrument, hence the heart carving.
Credit Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

Octogenarian Roland Johnson plays the bass fiddle.

Tonight he played for his Valentine at a concert in their retirement community in North East Austin.

Johnson and his wife Elizabeth have been married for 65 years. They say music is one of the things that helped keep their marriage strong. Their love for music is so powerful that some of their children and even grandchildren turned out to be musicians too.

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Austin
10:22 am
Thu February 12, 2015

Property Tax Exemptions, Explained in Terms of Pie

How much pie (ok, it's cheesecake) equals a property tax exemption?
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

Today the Austin City Council will talk about the possibility of implementing a twenty percent homestead property tax exemption. It's something many of the newly elected council members promised on the campaign trail last year.

So, what exactly does a twenty percent homestead exemption mean for homeowners?

Let's look at your property taxes as a whole, as though they were a pie.

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Austin
9:18 am
Tue February 10, 2015

What Does It Mean If Some City Council Districts Have Children and Some Don't?

Despite their close proximity, Districts 4 and 9 have a huge gap in the number of children in each, and some wonder how that will affect each district's budgets and policies going forward.
Miguel Gutierrez, Jr./KUT News

Every one of Austin's 10 geographic districts is unique, but there's one fact they share: Each has roughly 80,000 people.

That allows for a relative population equality between the districts, but the differences in district-to-district demographics can be anything but equal.

One of the biggest differences is between Districts 4 and 9.

District 9 has about a fourth of the number of children in District 4 and some wonder if that disparity will affect how the Austin City Council prioritizes money for each district in future budgets.

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Texas
5:14 pm
Fri February 6, 2015

Questions Arise About Sexual Assault Findings at Texas Detention Center

Immigration Detention Center in Karnes City, Tex.
KUT News

The Department of Homeland Security says it has found no evidence that women at the Karnes Immigrant Detention Center in Texas are being sexually assaulted. DHS released the results of its investigation today.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) says the DHS investigation was not thorough enough.

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