Joy Diaz

Producer, Texas Standard

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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Kate Ter Haar/flickr

The company that runs an immigrant prison in Raymondville, Tex., has lost its contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The facility was nicknamed "Ritmo" – like Guantanamo Bay's Gitmo. But, the reported abuses that earned it its Gitmo-like reputation are not the reason why it lost its contract. The contract was revoked after a two-day riot broke out there last month.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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