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 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. Courtney was also part of the team that won a national Edward R. Murrow award in 2017 for Excellence in Video.

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

Ways to Connect

Courtney Collins / KERA News

The strongest of last month's tornados hit North Dallas -- and destroyed every single building at North Haven Gardens, a 5-acre family-owned nursery. The storm obliterated about 65% of the inventory. Everything that's left is part of a special "tornado survivor sale."

After serving 20 years in prison, Ed Ates savors life at home with his wife, Kim Ates.
Allison V. Smith for KERA

Two decades in prison is a long time to go without a paycheck. For parents, that's also 20 years of missed childhood moments. Edward Ates feels the full weight of those losses, especially since he's maintained his innocence since day one. 

"Paying your debt to society by being incarcerated is just a simple myth," says Toby Savitz, ex-offender and director of programs at Pathfinders
Allison V. Smith for KERA

After serving two years in prison for possession of meth, Toby Savitz found herself in a series of low-paying jobs with no real path forward. She finally kicked the door open after landing a position at a nonprofit that helps ex-offenders like her. But she admits there aren’t enough jobs like hers to go around.

Marc Wilson standing outside the George L. Allen, Sr. Courts Building in downtown Dallas on Sept. 10, 2019. Much of the child support debt he racked up in prison has been reduced. But he's still far behind, and relief is tempered by feelings of guilt.
Allison V. Smith for KERA

Prison makes it nearly impossible to hold onto savings and earn money. But it's a great place to take on debt.

Before prison, Marc Wilson was set up to pass on wealth-building opportunities to his children and grandchildren, like a house and tuition help.
Allison V. Smith for KERA

When people go to prison, income dries up and earning potential rockets backward.

And when you mix incarceration with America's legacy of systemic racism, an ex-offender's ability to hand off wealth to the next generation is an even heavier struggle.

Allison V. Smith / KERA news special contributor

Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot on Friday addressed the controversial television interview where he discussed Amber Guyger's murder charge, despite a gag order.

Marc Wilson's personal wealth decreased significantly after serving a seven-year prison sentence for drug trafficking. "I'm starting from scratch, you know?"
Allison V. Smith for KERA

As a father, Marc Wilson had his family firmly in the middle class. Then a drug conviction sent him to prison for seven years. 

Courtney Collins

Autumn at the Dallas Arboretum burst into being over the weekend. From now through Halloween, visitors can catch the mammoth display of pumpkins, squash and gourds.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

Close to 1,500 volunteers scattered across North Texas Wednesday to tackle service projects in honor of 9/11.

A team dispatched to Rockwall was determined to clean, organize — and beautify.

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Being short on food or rent money are symptoms of poverty. Going without close friendships or being estranged from family are symptoms of what’s known as social poverty.

Professor Sarah Halpern-Meekin explains the dangers of being socially poor.

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Financial analysts have spent the last several weeks talking about whether a recession is looming.

On a recent episode of Think, host Krys Boyd talked with Ryan Nunn, an economic studies fellow at the Brookings Institution, about why sudden changes in the employment rate might mean a recession is near — or here.

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If someone winds up in jail because an unpaid traffic ticket leads to a suspended license and then an arrest warrant, does that mean being poor is, in one sense, a crime? Georgetown law professor Peter Edelman explores the topic in his new book, and on a recent episode of Think.

Heritage Auctions via Associated Press

Heritage Auctions has a collectible sports jersey up for auction through Saturday. As of Friday afternoon the bid was up to $62,500.

Sports junkies and certain political gurus might be equally interested in this one.

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Texas groups are reacting to the Trump administration's plan to significantly expand a rule that penalizes immigrants seeking permanent residency for using public benefits.

As it stands now, the "public charge" rule applies to people who primarily rely on the government for support through cash assistance, for example. 

Associated Press

A stifling heatwave means the Salvation Army has thrown open the doors of cooling stations across North Texas.

They're stocked with cold, bottled water, and there's plenty of room for people to bask in the air conditioning as long as they'd like.

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Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles and other big cities have struggled for decades to help solve the issues of urban violence and poverty.

On a recent episode of Think, Harvard Research fellow Thomas Abt talked with host Krys Boyd about why violence often furthers financial hardship.

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Almost 40% of homes in Texas are rented, and according to a new report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, finding an affordable one is a struggle. Research shows there's a shortage in Texas of close to 600,000 homes for the lowest income renters.

Stephanie Kuo / KERA News

Longer trains will soon be cruising down two DART lines. It was announced that the Federal Transit Administration will put $61 million into expanding capacity on the Red and Blue lines.

They'll be able to hold a third more riders.

GM Plant Arlington
Courtney Collins / KERA news

General Motors annouced plans to invest another $20 million into its Arlington assembly plant. The money will upgrade equipment ahead of GM's new SUV launch. 

Associated Press

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao visited Dallas Monday to announce half a billion dollars in grant money that will be funneled to airports across the country, including eight in Texas.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

Denton Bible Church has some unusual outreach programs. The "Sweat Team" is a group of folks who help clean up storm debris. And then there's the "Cattle Ministry," a church-run herd that provides beef to low income families in Denton. 

Courtney Collins / KERA News

For Louanna Fowler, becoming homeless didn't happen little by little — it happened all at once. One day she was living in a foster home, the next, she had aged out and was on the street.

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Americans with a lot of money are often praised as "hard workers,” but do elbow grease and ambition always lead to wealth?

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State legislation with bipartisan support is taking aim at "surprise medical bills" and may get a final vote Monday, May 20, in Austin. It's designed to protect the consumer by requiring medical providers and insurance companies to work things out themselves.

Taylor Moran

Strong tornadoes and major floods often produce nonstop news coverage and an outpouring of charitable giving. It's the small storms, though, that tend to come and go without much notice.

That's when Denton Bible Church steps in.

Eugene Keahey died by suicide in connection with a suspicious house fire that killed his wife and two daughters. Their deaths have been ruled homicides.
Courtney Collins / KERA news

The people who live in the unincorporated Dallas County community of Sandbranch don't have running water. Pastor Eugene Keahey was working to change that, until a suspicious house fire in February. 

Last week, Keahey's death was ruled a "suicide by gunshot" — his wife and two daughters were declared victims of homicide. Now, a fellow pastor is struggling to reconcile Keahey's legacy.

Julio Cortez / Associated Press

Opportunity zones are an effort to bring investors to struggling neighborhoods in exchange for tax benefits. There are thousands across the country, including 18 in Dallas County, seven in Tarrant and three in Denton County.

Pastor Eugene Keahey in 2015, standing by the water tank at Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church.
Courtney Collins / KERA News

Sandbranch, an unincorporated community in southeast Dallas County, doesn't have running water. And the man who fought so hard to change that, Pastor Eugene Keahey, was killed in a house fire.

New research estimates 15,000 kids in Tarrant County are homeless, including those living with families in motels or staying on someone's couch.
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A new report in Tarrant County shows traditional homeless counts track people in shelters or sleeping on the street, but they don't always account for families living in motels or camping on someone's couch.

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Many American families are staring down retirement with hardly any money set aside.

In fact, sociology professor and author Katherine S. Newman says about half of Americans have no savings at all. Many others haven't saved enough.

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