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.  

Pages

Health
11:49 am
Mon July 7, 2014

Leprosy Persists in Texas, But the Disease Is No Longer a Death Sentence

Debbie Mata is one of the few leprosy nurses in the country.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT

For thousands of years, people have had an image of what life with leprosy is like. You might think it's been eradicated, but leprosy — now referred to as Hansen's disease — still affects hundreds of people in the U.S. every year. Many of those victims are in Texas but, with treatment, a life with leprosy is no longer a death sentence.

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Texas
10:49 am
Fri July 4, 2014

New Braunfels Marine Killed in Afghanistan Will Be Laid to Rest Monday

Sergeant Thomas Spitzer from New Braunfels, Texas.
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=833105386715921&set=a.157228300970303.36082.100000494026975&type=1&theater

The body of Marine Sergeant Thomas Spitzer returns home to New Braunfels on Friday.

He was killed in action in Afghanistan on June 25.
The New Braunfels community is taking his loss to heart, not just because he is a local son, but also because his is not the only loss the community has experienced in recent years.

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Transportation
11:51 am
Wed July 2, 2014

Austin Could Take Hands-On Approach to Distracted Driving by Banning Hands-Free

Austin City Council could expand its definition of distracted driving to include hands-free devices.
via http://www.flickr.com/photos/indyplanets/

Austin already has a ban on texting behind the wheel, but phones these days are labeled "smart" for a reason — they can text, tweet,  Snapchat and steer drivers toward a plethora other distracting drive-time activities.

But now the city is asking for advice on possible changes to its distracted driving ordinance. And it could adopt an all-encompassing ban on mobile phone use behind the wheel, including a ban on hands-free devices.

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Austin Animal Center
11:00 am
Tue July 1, 2014

Could a Law Meant to Keep Animals Safe Actually Let More of Them Die?

A visitor to the Austin Animal Center in 2011. Animal advocates worry a law requiring a "veterinarian-client patient relationship" could slow rescue efforts, leading to more animal deaths.
KUT News

It's another busy day at the City of Austin's Animal Center.

This Monday there were 1,149 animals in inventory. About 600 were on site, the rest are in foster homes.

On her desk, Chief Animal Services Officer Abigail Smith has what looks like a police badge. It's there because she's a chief. But beyond that, Smith says it gets her access she couldn't get otherwise. "For example," Smith says, "it came in handy when we were responding to the Bastrop fires … Those were federally protected lines and you needed credentials to get through."

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Austin
12:15 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

How an Intervention Changed 12th & Chicon, Austin's Most Infamous Intersection

A new strategy for tackling drugs at 12th and Chicon streets – an "intervention" initiative to assist, rather then arrest, low-level users – is making a change.
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

It's a pretty uneventful morning at the corner of 12th and Chicon. Buses are running smoothly and on time. There's even a new art gallery in the area.

But there was a time – not too long ago – when prostitution, drugs, and other illegal activities were going down in the open, in the middle of the day.

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Education
4:14 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

Donation Brings Huston-Tillotson University Closer to Building Mental Health Clinic

A graduate of Huston-Tillotson University's class of 1941, Ada Anderson says her HT degree opened doors she would not have had access to otherwise.
Credit KUT's Joy Diaz

It's the largest gift Huston-Tillotson has ever received.

On Thursday, the historic black university announced that Ada Anderson, a 92-year-old graduate, had donated $3 million to pay for the initial construction phase of the school's mental health clinic. It will be called the Sandra Joy Anderson Community Health and Wellness Center in honor of the donor's daughter.

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Transportation
8:21 am
Tue June 24, 2014

Cap Metro Mulls Airport Route for Phase Two of Urban Rail

Project Connect

Capital Metro voted Monday to move forward with recommendations from Project Connect. The next steps are deciding who will govern its potential urban  rail operations and where some of the funding will come from. The City of Austin and Capital Metro are both major players.

But while Project Connect moved a step forward, there was a push from the Cap Metro board to take a step back.

After dozens of public meetings and no shortage of criticism, Project Connect arrived at a proposed route for its urban rail that would go from Riverside to Highland Mall. On Monday, Capital Metro Board Chair Mike Martinez asked for analysis on a whole new route, from Austin-Bergstrom International to UT.

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Austin
8:27 am
Mon June 23, 2014

How Colony Park Wants to Face its Challenges as Development Looms

The proposed plan covers 208 acres in northeast Austin.
Carrie Powell for KUT News

Colony Park, out near the Travis County Expo Center, is one of those neighborhoods in Austin that’s a mixed bag. The area is getting nicer in some ways, but it’s also facing some hard-to-fix challenges.

During the last couple of years, the community has been studying the positive aspects of Colony Park in order to take advantage of them.

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Austin
11:12 am
Fri June 20, 2014

Why the City's Cracking Down on Code Violations in Southeast Austin

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

For years, many Austin residents have made structural changes to their homes  like turning their garage into an apartment  without a permit. But the City of Austin has been taking a more proactive approach to code compliance lately, especially in Southeast Austin. 

"Austin Code is in the neighborhood daily," says Alanna Reed, a spokesperson with the city's Office of Code Compliance.

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Urban Rail
4:36 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

Ahead of Key Vote, City Council and Capital Metro Meet to Hear Austin Rail Proposal

Project Connect

The Austin City Council and the Capital Metro Board met today to learn more about a proposed urban rail route that needs approval from the council – and ultimately, Austin voters. There are still concerns about how to pay for the project.

Project Connect is looking at adding rail, buses and other options to the transit system in Central Texas. But the project's proposed plan for downtown Austin is still contentious because it favors a route that would bring urban rail through East Riverside and up to Highland Mall at a cost of almost $1.4 billion.

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Turning the Corner
9:33 am
Fri June 13, 2014

Dove Springs: Turning the Corner in Southeast Austin

Paula Aguilar, Leonor Vargas, George Morales, Eliseo Ramos, Bob Larson and Bene Jacobs (l to r)
KUT News

Welcome to Dove Springs. 

Driving through the neighborhood, you may not realize you’re in the same city that’s home to Franklin Barbeque, Barton Springs or the Continental Club. Five miles down I-35 from the Texas Capitol lies a modest residential area in the city’s southeast corner, one of the last neighborhoods many Austin residents pass as they head to the airport. 

It’s also one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods with a history of gangs and drugs, poverty, teen pregnancy and obesity.

But it's a neighborhood filled with hardworking parents, multi-generational families and cultural diversity. There’s always been a lot of pride, but recently, residents are giving the neighborhood a voice. They’re advocating for better services, organizing events and this fall, they’ll elect a city council member to specifically represent their district.

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KUT's Summer School
4:00 pm
Fri June 6, 2014

We Spent a Day Blowing Glass. It'll Only Take 3 or 5 More Years to Get It Down

Joy and Wimberley Glassworks owner Tim deJong.

School is finally out across Austin. But here at KUT, class is in session.

KUT is kicking off our new "Summer School" series. Every Friday, KUT reporters will learn a new skill or craft from folks who are experts in the field. 

First up: Art class.

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Interstate 35
4:20 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

TxDOT Backs Plans to Bury I-35 – Just Don’t Hold Your Breath Waiting

A TxDOT rendering of a sunk and capped I-35 in downtown Austin. TxDOT is currently focused on less ambitious I-35 fixes, like improving ramps.
TxDOT/Mobility35

Sorry, Austin – there's no money to improve the Interstate 35 corridor. At least not enough for a full face-lift, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.

But as money becomes available, TxDOT says it will continue working on portions of the highway. At a media workshop today, the state agency said that by the end of the year it should move from the planning stages of I-35 improvements and into studying their environmental impact. That should take about two years. And then – if funding is available – it will be time to start implementing changes.

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Austin
10:05 am
Mon June 2, 2014

Seen These Signs in Downtown Austin? We Met the Guy Behind Them

You may have seen them on your morning commute: handmade signs, around Lamar and Barton Springs, offering services and sentiments that seem more than a little bit off.

Public Notice: That Rash Won't Just Go Away

R.I.P. Weird, 1969 – 2014. We Will Miss You!

If You Lived Here, You'd Be Homeless By Now

Some even have a phone number attached:

I Buy Broken Dreams: 512-333-1984

They're the work of one person – a homeless man in his 30s named David. Not that he refers to himself by that name. "I go by the name of Liar, which has nothing to do with the instrument," he says.

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Austin
12:45 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

Austin Has $300K Available for Neighborhood Projects - Want to Build a Community Garden?

flickr.com/chiotsrun

If you've ever taken a look around your neighborhood and had an idea for a project, this might be your chance to make it happen.

Right now, the City of Austin has a little over $300,000 for projects – and it wants to stretch this money even further by partnering with neighborhoods.

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Rising Property Values
3:36 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

Can Anything Be Done to Lower Austin's Property Taxes?

Many people in Travis County were shocked to learn how much their property values – and consequently, their property taxes – might go up this year.
flickr.com/polymerchemist

The deadline to file a protest regarding your property tax appraisal is fast approaching – Monday, June 2.

Many people in Travis County are shocked to learn how much their property values – and consequently, their property taxes ­– might go up this year. County officials say valuations have risen roughly 15 percent on average this year. But as seen in this local Reddit discussion, many homeowners are facing 25 percent and 30 percent increases ­– and higher.

Sticker shock is so prevalent, Travis County Commissioners say their phones haven't stopped ringing from residents calling, asking for help. 

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Turning The Corner
11:55 am
Fri May 16, 2014

Gentrification or a Renaissance in Austin's Dove Springs Neighborhood?

The new Arbor Ridge development located on Nuckols Crossing Road has some homes finished and some under construction.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Dove Springs in Southeast Austin is just six miles from downtown – what many real estate agents consider a prime location. But the area is also one of the poorest parts of Austin. And for decades, it's had a less than desirable reputation.

Despite all that, change is coming to Dove Springs – with some believing they're witnessing the beginning of gentrification.

The area has traditionally been filled with low-income renters, many who are recent immigrants and don't speak English. Data may still point to those facts. But on the ground, the neighborhood is going through what many believe is a fast transformation.

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Asian-Pacific American Heritage
8:08 am
Mon May 12, 2014

Austin's Asian-American Community is Diverse and Growing

Connie Kim adjusts Kyong Ah's hair before they take the stage to perform "Uh Woo Dong." a traditional Korean dance. The Korean United Pentecostal Church hosts a Parents Day celebration for parents and senior citizens of the community.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

There’s a common misperception about Austin’s fastest-growing minority group.

Most people would think that title belongs to Hispanics. But while Hispanics are the largest minority group, they are not the fastest-growing. Although their numbers are still relatively small, Asian-Americans are the fastest growing group in Austin.

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Secure Communities Controversy
12:02 pm
Fri May 9, 2014

Will Travis County Be Sued For Participating in ICE Immigration Holds?

Numerous attorneys says Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton's participation in Immigration and Customs Enforcement's controversial Secure Communities program could lead to lawsuits.
Daniel Reese for KUT News

Dozens of jurisdictions across the country have backed away from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deportation program known as Secure Communities.

But Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton is not backing away from the controversial program. And in response, a group of Austin attorneys announced Thursday they plan to start suing the county for its Secure Communities detentions.

As ICE writes, the program "prioritizes the removal of criminal aliens, those who pose a threat to public safety, and repeat immigration violators." But critics charge the program has been overused and resides on shaky legal ground. 

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Austin
10:40 am
Thu May 8, 2014

The Money Race for Austin City Council Starts Today

Credit Photo by KUT News

Today is the first day that campaigns and candidates for the Austin City Council can start soliciting or accepting political contributions. Although many things will be radically different this election cycle, asking for money will remain practically the same. 

When Austin voters changed the city’s form of government in 2012, they did not change anything when it comes to campaign contributions. Still, the city’s clerk Jannette Goodall says campaign contribution limits are adjusted every election cycle according to inflation.

For instance, the charter says 300 dollars “and I believe the current amount is 350,” says Goodall.

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