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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Texas
11:20 am
Mon November 25, 2013

Central Texas Remembers Staff Sergeant Richard Vazquez

Staff Sergeant Richard Vazquez.
Courtesy of the U.S. Army Special Forces.

The Seguin community is honoring a fallen soldier.

Staff Sergeant Richard Vazquez died Nov. 13 after he was wounded in Afghanistan. As a child, his family moved a lot, but his high school years in Seguin gave definition to his early life. That’s why, after each of his multiple tours of duty, he always came back to Central Texas to spend time with the people he loved.

Staff Sgt. Richard Vazquez and his older brother Romario were inseparable as children - in part because they were only 11-months apart.

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Turning the Corner
12:04 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

LISTEN: How One Austin Family is Rebuilding After the Halloween Floods

Bene Jacobs, outside her destroyed home in Onion Creek. Jacobs, her partner and their children were rescued from their neighbor's roof.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

This year, KUT News is chronicling the challenges and changes affecting Austin’s Dove Springs neighborhood in a series called “Turning the Corner.”

These stories have taken on added urgency in the aftermath of Austin’s Halloween floods, where flooding directly affected many Dove Springs residents. 

Bene Jacobs’ morning routine hasn’t changed that much. She still gets up before 6 a.m., before it’s light outside.

In the darkness, at her cousin’s house in Del Valle, Bene struggles to find her way into the room where her children sleep. “Still learning all the light switches,” she whispers.

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Homelessness
4:55 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

Here's What Austin's Newest Housing For the Chronically Homeless Looks Like

Each home will have its own garden. The idea is to have beauty all around the property.
Joy Diaz, KUT News

Plans are moving ahead in the Austin area to house about 200 people who are chronically homeless.  Community First Village has been about a decade in the making and in just a matter of months, it will break ground.

The property is 27 acres, with little cottages, mobile homes and even some teepees dotting the landscape. A three-acre community garden is also on-site. 

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Halloween Floods
5:35 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

FEMA Finishing its Flood Assessments – But a Declaration Could Take Months

Richard Rivera inventories some of the things he could salvage from his home. FEMA investigators are looking to conclude their assessments soon.
Joy Diaz, KUT News

In Onion Creek, the sun shone brightly Friday morning. It’s a welcome change from a week ago, when flood waters devastated the southeast Austin neighborhood.

But that’s not what’s giving survivors hope. The hope comes from seeing FEMA investigators taking pictures and measurements.

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East Austin
12:54 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

Huston-Tillotson Aims to Ease African-American Mental Health Stigmas

An unidentified person photographed at the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless in 2011. East Austin’s Huston-Tillotson University hopes to open a community mental health clinic next year.
KUT News

Robert Winston knows he has a mental disorder – but he didn’t know that for a long time.

He’s convinced his life would’ve turned out much differently had he been diagnosed as a young adult. He probably wouldn’t have left his wife and kids in California. He probably wouldn’t have become dependent on alcohol. He probably wouldn’t have ended up homeless in Austin.

Winston is African-American and he is 52-years-old. “[I’ve] tried to commit suicide twice,” he says. “And I couldn’t understand why I was having a hard time dealing with just the basic things of life.” 

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Turning the Corner
10:13 am
Fri November 8, 2013

What Blockbuster Video Can Tell Us About Austin’s Digital Divide

While Blockbuster Video has fallen due to online video, the stores are doing well in a less digitally-connected part of Austin.
Flickr user trebomb, http://flic.kr/ps/dmXZU

Update: This week, Blockbuster Video announced it is closing its 300 remaining retail stores. It’s a bitter end for the rental chain, founded in Dallas, which once had 9,000 stores.

Austin’s Dove Springs neighborhood contains two of the city’s three final Blockbuster stores. And unlike the company as a whole, those stores are thriving.

In the story below, KUT examines how forces behind the chain’s closure – the Internet and the rise of streaming video – are the same forces that have kept Dove Spring’s Blockbuster stores open for years.

Original story (Oct. 4): When was the last time you rented something from a Blockbuster Video?

Austin City Council member Laura Morrison’s recollection probably speaks for most of us. “My memory doesn’t go that far these days,” she says.

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Adoption
4:46 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

Why One Couple Chose to Adopt Six Siblings at the Same Time

Michael, Jeremiah, Dominick, Jasmine, Aliana and Jermain Velez celebrate a birthday as a family at their home in Killeen.
Joy Diaz for KUT

This Thursday is Adoption Day, and about 6,500 children are waiting to be adopted in the Texas Foster care program. Last year, more than 1,000 didn’t find a home.

But a group of six Killeen siblings, the dream of staying together as a family — an unlikely prospect for many siblings in foster care — became a reality when Hipólito and Carmen Velez entered their lives.

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Affordable Housing
10:42 am
Tue October 29, 2013

Are Bonds Austin's Best Way to Support Affordable Housing?

If approved, a $65 million bond proposition would go toward building, renovating and funding affordable housing projects.
flickr.com/dragontomato

This November, Austinites are being asked to approve a $65 million affordable housing bond. The money would go toward building and renovating affordable housing projects; purchasing land to build affordable housing on; and funding of ongoing affordable housing initiatives. You can see a sample ballot here.

But it was just one year ago that voters rejected a similar bond proposition.

With that recent loss, some have asked whether issuing tax-supported municipal bonds is the best way to fund affordability in Austin.

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Police
5:23 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

Austin Lieutenant Clay Crabb, 42, is Laid to Rest

(left to right) Lt. Crabb with his son Harrison (9), his daughter Megan (7), his wife Anne and their youngest son Ronin (4).
Photo courtesy of Cook-Walden/Forest Oaks Funeral Home and Memorial Park

Austin Police Lieutenant Clay Crabb was laid to rest today. He was killed last week while driving to work in heavy rain – one day before his 43rd birthday.

Hundreds of police officers came from all over Texas for the funeral and tears flowed freely as mourners remembered the decorated 19-year veteran police officer, father of three and husband of 10 years.

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Redistricting
11:09 am
Mon October 21, 2013

Citizens Weigh in on District Maps That Will Shape the Face of Austin City Council

A city employee during a lottery to decide members of the Independent Citizen's Redistricting Commission.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The holiday season will bring more than presents for Austinites. It will also bring maps outlining the boundaries for 10 City Council districts — if the grueling process of tweaking and finalizing the districts wraps up in time for Christmas. 

But the Independent Citizen's Redistricting Commission — the volunteer citizen group charged with drawing the maps — is accepting comments on its preliminary map during a regular meeting tonight and a public input meeting Wednesday.

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Police
12:44 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

Why Are There So Few Women Cops in Austin?

APD Commander Antonia Singletary used to ride patrols on these Kawasaki bikes. The bikes were heavy, but easier to maneuver than the Harley Davidsons. Those, she says, “you have to manhandle.”
Joy Diaz, KUT News

In big cities nationwide, female police officers make up about 18 percent of the force. Those numbers may seem low, but they are similar to female enrollment figures in the military.

Austin’s numbers are even lower. Less than ten percent of Austin Police Department officers in Austin are women. APD wants to change that.

Antonia Singletary is a veteran cop with almost thirty years in the force. She is tiny, just 5’2” and around 100 pounds. She looks even smaller standing next to one of the motorcycles she used to use on patrol.

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Austin
10:50 am
Tue October 15, 2013

Do Austin Policies Help or Hurt Affordable Housing?

The Austin City Council recently OK'd putting a $65 million affordable housing bond to voters this November.
Daniel Reese for KUT News

Austin’s the fastest-growing large city in the country.

All of the city’s socio-economic groups are growing – from the very affluent to people with lower incomes. It’s those low-income Austinites who struggle to find housing as prices climb higher.

Starting next week, Austin voters will decide whether to approve $65 million in bonds to pay for affordable housing initiatives. But regardless of the election results, the need is not likely to go away soon.

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Adoption
10:18 am
Thu September 26, 2013

This Portrait Gallery is Helping Central Texas Children Get Adopted

There were seven empty spots in the Heart Gallery displayed at the Lady Bird Lake YMCA. Those children were recently adopted. About 600 more are available for adoption in the region.
Joy Diaz, KUT News

Update: The Heart Gallery of Central Texas is on display at Austin City Hall through tomorrow.

Original story (Aug. 29): Think about adoption, and you’re probably thinking about babies.

That's one of the reasons why older children struggle to get adopted. Two other groups that have a hard time finding their "forever homes" are children with disabilities and sibling groups – about half of the children in foster care who are waiting to be adopted are groups of siblings.

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Affordable Housing
5:10 pm
Mon September 23, 2013

These 'Affordable' Apartments Operate Tax Free. Too Bad They Have the Most Code Violations in Austin

The walkway leading to Oak Hollow resident William Towne’s apartment was redone a couple of months ago. But the wood was untreated and is already curling up. Chipping paint is very common throughout the complex.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Oak Hollow is a community of 429 apartments in northwest Austin. It’s operated as affordable housing by a group called American Opportunity for Housing.

Built in 1972, keeping up a property like Oak Hollow can be expensive. The main source of income for American Opportunity for Housing is rent. And as a nonprofit, the community has a 100 percent tax exemption. The City of Austin estimates, over the last decade, that it has foregone upwards of $1 million in taxes from Oak Hollow.

But it’s a property with a reputation among renters’ advocates.

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Turning The Corner
2:28 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Video: Will New City Council Bring Real Change to Dove Springs?

Out of a population of 24,000, who will be the one person to represent Dove Springs?

Last November, Austin voters agreed to adopt a geographic form of city government: one mayor and 10 districts with one council member each.

Advocates for geographic representation argue the old way left large parts of Austin unrepresented. The seven members of the current Austin City Council all live north of Lady Bird Lake, and close to the city’s core.

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City Budget
2:23 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

2014 Austin City Budget Holds Line on Tax Rate (Update)

The Austin City Council may need three full days for budget adoption this year.
Liang Shi for KUT News

Update: For the first time since 2007, the Austin City Council has voted to lower the city’s property tax rate. The council finalized the fiscal year 2014 budget this afternoon.

Granted, the tax rate hasn’t fallen by much: two-hundredths of a penny (from 50.29 to 50.27 cents) for every $100 dollars of valuation. For the owner of a $200,000 home, that amounts to a savings of 40 cents a year. Mayor Lee Leffingwell had pressed for a bigger cut.

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Turning The Corner
10:46 am
Fri August 30, 2013

The Challenging Task of Cleaning Up Dove Springs

Ron Potts makes sure the city's codes and regulations are observed in Dove Springs. His three major challenges are trash piles, overgrown weeds and grass and broken fences.
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

The Dove Springs neighborhood in southeast Austin runs from Ben White to William Cannon, bound by Montopolis and Pleasant Valley on the east, and Interstate 35 on the west. One of the issues affecting Dove Springs is its appearance. Piles of trash, broken fences and overgrown weeds and grass contribute to its visual blight. 

Ron Potts is at the wheel.

“We’re going down Stassney, because normally Stassney is pretty horrible in my vision.” He works for the City of Austin’s Code Compliance office, the guys that enforce the city’s codes and regulations.

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Texas
10:35 am
Tue August 20, 2013

There's One Year Left in Obama's Deferred Action Immigration Program

Manuel Ramirez just received his DACA card. On the day President Obama approved DACA, Ramirez was traveling – an easy way to be detained and possibly deported. He says DACA has given him some peace of mind.
Joy Diaz, KUT News

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Austin
4:52 pm
Mon August 19, 2013

How Do Austin Property Taxes Compare Statewide?

Austin has a lower property tax rate than many other major cities - but that doesn't tell the whole story.
Travis County Appraisal District

Of the six largest cities in Texas, Austin is the one with the lowest property tax rate. But does that tell the whole story?

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Environment
3:38 pm
Tue August 13, 2013

How You Can Help Draw the Blueprint for Austin's Urban Forest

A healthy tree at Brentwood Park. With city help, several ailing trees there were returned to health.
Natalie Krebs for KUT News

The City of Austin is drafting its first comprehensive Urban Forest Plan.

The city hopes to work with Austinites to pinpoint areas of problem tree conditions and to look at possible solutions to transform the drought-stricken city into a truly green one.

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