The owner of a luxury high-rise apartment complex in the West Loop is suing to evict a wheelchair-bound tenant, subsidized by the Chicago Housing Authority, who allegedly shot and killed another tenant while the man was on a stationary bike in the building’s gym.
Simultaneously, the CHA says it “has begun the process of terminating” the financial assistance — worth $22,608 a year — that Reggie L. Daniel has been receiving so he could live in the one-bedroom apartment on the 15th floor at Alta at K Station, 555 W. Kinzie.
Police say Daniel quarreled with Darrin A. Joss, a commodities trader, at the gym around 7 p.m. on March 2, left, came back with a gun and shot Joss in the head and chest. Joss, 45, was pronounced dead less than an hour later at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
Others in the gym saw the shooting, which also was recorded on surveillance video.
About 12 hours later, Daniel, 48, drove to police headquarters to turn himself in and was charged with first-degree murder. He’s being held at the Cook County Jail on $1 million bail.
Daniel — who has used a wheelchair since being shot 30 years ago — has been arrested a dozen times, records show. His most recent prior arrest was by the Dolton police in 1997 for battery and resisting arrest. He pleaded guilty and was given court supervision. He was convicted of a felony for selling drugs in 1989 and was sentenced to probation.
Records show he’s been living alone in the luxury high-rise with the help of a housing choice voucher, one of nearly 45,000 issued by the CHA to help low-income people lease apartments and houses from private landlords. In Chicago, the CHA administers the program, formerly known as Section 8, for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
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Daniel is among 298 CHA voucher-holders whose rents exceed $2,000 a month, according to a recent Chicago Sun-Times and Better Government Association investigation.
He lives in a CHA “opportunity area,” a neighborhood where the CHA has agreed to pay higher rents — up to three times its normal rates — enabling 3,584 people in 1,332 households to afford homes in neighborhoods that have few poor people and little subsidized housing.
Daniel — who is unemployed, according to police reports — is leasing a $2,055-a-month apartment. CHA records show he pays $171 a month toward the rent, and taxpayers pay the remaining $1,884.
He moved to Alta at K Station — which is west of the Chicago River near the Merchandise Mart and includes two high-rise towers, a theater, an indoor sports court and a sprawling outdoor pool with cabanas — in June 2014.
Two months later, the CHA announced it would scale back its exception rents from 300 percent of what it normally allows to 150 percent. Those voucher-holders would have at least a year to renegotiate their rents or find somewhere less expensive to live.
But Daniel renewed his lease in June 2015, court records show. He was within his rights to do so, according to CHA spokeswoman Molly Sullivan, because his voucher isn’t due to expire until 2017.
“The lease was renewed in 2015 because the recertification for that voucher-holder was not due until January 2017,” Sullivan says. “Per HUD regulations, public housing agencies can only lower the payment standard at the time of recertification.”
CHA officials have said that all tenants with rents above 150 percent of the normal rates will have to move by the spring of 2018.
Citing federal privacy rules, Sullivan won’t confirm Daniel’s identity as a voucher holder, discuss how he was screened before he was given a housing choice voucher or say how long he has had it. But Daniel is the only voucher holder in the complex, according to CHA records.
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The CHA hires two private companies to screen all voucher applicants. Most voucher-holders are recertified every two years, according to the agency.
Voucher-holders and their family members 18 or older must undergo criminal background checks, according to Sullivan. The results of those aren’t shared with landlords, who “are encouraged to do their own screening to determine if they will rent their unit to a given household,” Sullivan says.
HUD requires the CHA to deny housing assistance if a background check finds that “any household member is currently engaged in illegal use of drugs . . . including the sale and use of medical marijuana,” Sullivan says. HUD rules also call for housing aid to be denied to anyone convicted of a violent or gun-related crime within the previous five years.
According to Cook County court records, Daniel had no such arrests or convictions the past five years.
After Daniel turned himself in, the manager of Alta at K Station tried to reach a CHA contractor by phone and email regarding Daniel’s lease but had gotten no response from the contractor or the CHA by the evening of March 7, court records show.
The next day, the company that owns the complex, Morguard Alta LLC, filed suit to evict Daniel. It said he violated his lease by “engaging in or threatening violence; possessing a weapon prohibited by state law; discharging a firearm in the apartment community” and “displaying or possessing a gun, knife or other weapon in the common area.”
The building manager and its attorney declined to comment.
Joss, the shooting victim, had an economics degree from the University of Iowa. He moved to Chicago and was a trader at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade before starting his own company, Joss Group Trading.
“Darrin has successfully traded millions of contracts in over 50 products,” the firm’s website says.