Courtney Collins | KERA News

Courtney Collins

Reporter

Courtney Collins has been working as a broadcast journalist since graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2004. Before coming to KERA in 2011, Courtney worked as a reporter for NPR member station WAMU in Washington D.C. While there she covered daily news and reported for the station’s weekly news magazine, Metro Connection.

At KERA, Courtney is lead reporter for the series “One Crisis Away,” about life on the financial edge. Courtney has won awards from the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors, Texas Medical Association, Houston Press Club and last year received the inaugural consumer financial reporting award presented by the Public Radio News Directors Inc. and the National Endowment for Financial Education. “One Crisis Away” was also recognized by the Radio Television Digital News Association and National Endowment for Financial Education for excellence in personal finance reporting.

When she’s not at work, Courtney loves to read and play outdoors with her husband and wild toddler.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

Hurricane Harvey and the devastating rainfall that came with it displaced thousands of families; and some landed in North Texas.

Three and a half months after the storm, more than a hundred of those families have decided to stay. KERA's series One Crisis Away: After The Flood shares the journey of woman who’s been through this before — 12 years ago, after Hurricane Katrina.

Allison V. Smith / KERA news special contributor

Three months ago, Hurricane Harvey slammed into the Gulf Coast and settled over southeast Texas for three days, dumping feet, not inches of rain. Thousands evacuated before the storm made landfall, others had to be rescued. Just shy of 4,000 people came to Red Cross shelters in Dallas, Fort Worth and Irving. About 120 families have decided to stay.

Red Cross of North Texas / Flickr

In 2005, Keith Rhodes was running the Methodist Home for Children in New Orleans. Then, Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Louisiana Gulf Coast. He had to evacuate dozens of kids, and move his own family to safety.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

Low-income schools have a tough time paying for field trips, and parents often don't have room in the budget for after-school activities. That's why the Dallas Arboretum is bringing the great outdoors inside some local schools.

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Many agencies are rejecting a one-size-fits-all approach to solving homelessness. The Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance has set a goal to cut the Dallas area population of chronic, veteran and elderly homeless in half by next summer.

Dennis Culhane from the University of Pennsylvania specializes in the modern homelessness crisis, and explains why securing housing is uniquely challenging for seniors.

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Many low-income working parents have a tough time finding child care.

The nonprofit Children At Risk mapped zip codes in Texas with very limited access to certified child care, areas known as "child care deserts." The vast majority of low-income kids in Dallas County live in one.

Courtney Collins / KERA News

At age 84, Lily Garcia is a first-time homeowner.

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The top local stories this evening from KERA News: 

North Texas journalism pioneer Vivian Castleberry, 95, died Wednesday after battling breast cancer. She was known as both a trailblazing journalist and peace activist.

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Something that often pushes people living near poverty over that edge is having children. New numbers from the Mayor's Task Force on Poverty shows a wide gap in Dallas between the general poverty rate, and the child poverty rate.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

Monday was the deadline for families living in homes owned by HMK Ltd. to move out or face eviction. The 305 low-cost rentals, mostly in rapidly gentrifying West Dallas, have been at the center of a conflict between the landlord and the city.

Rabbi Sholey Klein / Dallas Kosher

Hurricane Harvey flooded homes, bakeries and grocery stores across Houston, forcing many Jewish families who keep kosher to survive on crackers from the corner store.

So North Texas kosher caterers took action, and set off for Houston bearing brisket and much more. 

Courtney Collins / KERA news

One way teachers offset poverty in the classroom is by reaching into their wallets.

For some parents, filling a shopping cart with school supplies is a chore. For others, it's an impossibility. Many teachers would rather spend their own money, than see kids in their class go without.

The National Guard photo by: Lt. Zachary West , 100th MPAD / Flickr

One safeguard many people opt out of is flood insurance. This already powerful hurricane season has shown everyone the devastation rising waters can cause, and only two in 10 homeowners in Harvey’s path had flood insurance.

 

Insurance expert Burl Daniel, based in Fort Worth, explains the importance of having coverage across the state, including North Texas.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

One essential item that runs out quickly and many families can't live without is diapers. Toddlers need six to eight every day, and infants can go through up to 12.

In the aftermath of Harvey, and with Hurricane Irma cranking up in the Atlantic, diapers are a key element in outfitting a shelter.

Courtney Collins / KERA News

More than 3,000 evacuees are sheltering in North Texas. Sleeping on cots and recycling the same clothes every few days can be a grind.

At one Dallas shelter, just a few days before it closed, volunteers were bringing fun.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

Folks who know firsthand how devastating a natural disaster can be, have a unique take on Hurricane Harvey, and what's ahead for survivors.

When tornadoes ripped through North Texas the day after Christmas in 2015, hundreds of families had to completely rebuild their lives. This kind of financial disruption can take years to sort out.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

As Hurricane Harvey nears the Texas gulf coast, folks are streaming north to wait out the storm and that means big business for hotels and truck stops in Dallas and Fort Worth.

Within the sea of Houston evacuees, there was a lonely car headed the other way.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

Most universities host "move-in weeks" for new students; think orientation sessions, mixers and cookouts. Freshmen at Dallas Baptist University are also expected to commit a full day to community service.

During orientation, or "SWAT week," freshmen have time for fun, figuring out schedules and decorating dorm rooms. When Friday rolls around, though, it's time to leave campus, and get to work.

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Poor families that spend too much on rent or live in terrible conditions have what's known as "worst-case housing needs."

 

A new U.S. Housing and Urban Development report shows the numbers of those types of renters surging across the country. Sandy Rollins of the Texas Tenants’ Union explains what that means for North Texas.

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New research in Dallas County unravels what teen pregnancy costs a young mom and the community she lives in — from money spent on Medicaid for prenatal care to what it takes to investigate child abuse and neglect.

A North Texas teen pregnancy prevention program teamed up with UT Southwestern to calculate the costs.

A new study shows the harsh impact that growing up in a poor neighborhood has on a kid’s development. Researchers in Texas, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin found the number of children living in high-poverty neighborhoods surged during the Great Recession; from 36 percent of kids in 1998 to 44 percent in 2010.

Rice University sociologist Rachel Kimbro explains why the kids living in those neighborhoods were already a year behind their peers, before even starting school.

Dallas Area Habitat For Humanity / Facebook

Habitat for Humanity, the nonprofit that builds homes for people on the financial edge, just signed a deal to buy nearly four dozen lots in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of West Dallas. Getting people into the homes that will be built there, though, will take years.

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The top local stories this evening from KERA News: Tom Perez is optimistic that Democrats can mount a comeback in Texas -- and across the country.

Facebook / Detroit Police Department

Dallas made a landmark hire this week – Renee Hall will be the first woman to run the city’s police department. Now serving as deputy chief in Detroit, Hall is determined to make her mark in Dallas not just as a woman, but as a standout leader.

Detroit Police Department

Renee Hall will be the first female chief of the Dallas Police Department.

Hall is the permanent replacement for Chief David Brown. He retired in October after leading the department and the city through the aftermath of the July 7 ambush that left five officers dead.

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People fleeing violent relationships often leave without financial support, which means a shelter may be the only place they can turn for help. And those are usually designed for women and children.

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In Texas, many families are pulled out of poverty by what’s known as the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC. Some experts say changing how the credit is paid out might help even more people.

The Brookings Institution’s Alan Berube talks about the credit — and why paying it all at once may not be the answer.

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The top local stories this evening from KERA News: New numbers show hailstorms caused more than $5 billion in damage to Texas homes last year. That's the highest annual loss ever – more than doubling the previous record set the year before, of almost $2 billion.

Courtney Collins / KERA News

The Dallas Street Choir just returned from a whirlwind tour through New York City and Washington D.C., performing four times and seeing all the sites. For many members, a trip like this was a first — because they all happen to be homeless.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

Bed bugs can be especially overwhelming for low-income families. The pests are drawn to apartment complexes with lots of people packed into small spaces, and they cause pain, anxiety and financial stress.

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