Skip to main content

Denver in Decay

Just around the corner from Step Denver - where men have left life on the streets in search of recovery and are doing the hard work to rebuild - you will find people with needles in their arms out in the open at 8:00 a.m. You will see human beings living in hazardous conditions which have overtaken our city and have made sidewalks impassable and unsafe for all citizens living and working in Denver.

I know what it is to be homeless. I lived that life for two years as a consequence of my addiction. It is with that lived experience - and as Executive Director of the solution that is Step Denver - that I carry the following stance and feel a responsibility as someone with a unique perspective to be vocal about the reality of the issue we are facing, the right approach to helping, and the rights of all people.

I was recently asked to participate in a documentary titled ‘Denver in Decay’; a film produced by Steffan Tubbs of KNUS. There is the potential that the final product will have a commentary on politics for its perceived failings, issues on police interaction with the community, issues on race, and other politically driven motivations. While we received assurances from the film’s producers that Step Denver’s contribution to the documentary would pertain solely to homelessness and addiction, we also knew the film could become political in nature due to the polarizing circumstances our city and country find themselves in. But it is my firm belief that as any opportunity arises to add to the conversation and make our stance - and solution - more widely known and discussed, I have an obligation to speak up and contribute. I am very grateful to Steffan Tubbs for inviting me into this conversation. We truly believe that he has the well-being of the Denver community and its citizens in his heart.

It is important to us that all viewers and community members know: To Step Denver, THIS IS NOT A POLITICAL ISSUE. IT IS A HUMAN ISSUE. IT IS AN ADDICTION ISSUE. Step Denver has no position on any of the other issues that may be outlined in the documentary above and beyond addiction and homelessness.

I encourage you to watch the ‘Denver in Decay’ documentary upon its release to learn more about how addiction and homelessness are critically affecting our community. If interested, I also encourage you to provide support at their GoFundMe page ( as the producers will be generously donating 25% of all funds raised to the mission of Step Denver.

While Step Denver does not take a political position on the issues that are seen to be the ‘causes’ for addiction and homelessness, we do have very specific beliefs about the solution to those problems.

WE BELIEVE in Accountability, which is a core principle of our program. The idea that one cannot blame others for their situation, nor expect that someone else is going to solve that problem for them, is a primary foundation upon which our program is built. We understand that everyone needs HELP to begin the process and at Step we are passionate, and compassionate, about providing that help for those who want it - at no cost. We believe that individuals cannot be enabled to continue living the life they are by ignoring the problem, giving them money, or having citizens look the other way as these issues become worse within our communities.

We are about helping people. But we are about helping those that want help and will neither endorse nor oppose any other method than the one we have seen work for us for years. Step Denver does not have a position on political parties, the police, race, violence, the pandemic, or any of the other issues that are prevalent in the upcoming elections. We are focused on ADDICTION and HOMELESSNESS only and do not support allowing people to continue their downward slide by allowing them to camp or live on the streets without consequence, at the expense of our community and its citizens. If people are not ready for help, we understand. We will be here with open arms when they are. But until they are, we do not believe that they may impinge on the lives of those in our community who are working to live in a self-sufficient manner.

My heart goes out to those folks still caught up in this destructive cycle. I have made it my life’s work to try to help those in need who are ready for help. And, as a citizen, I cannot support allowing people to live on the street, continuing the cycle of their drug and alcohol use, at the inconvenience, risk, and cost to the citizens of our community.

We will continue to share our message and philosophy with any and all who ask us to participate. Our hope is that people watching the film will know and be clear on the fact that Step Denver’s message stands alone, completely separate and apart from any other viewpoints featured, and that we do not endorse ANY other messages shared in the film. In fact, we have asked Steffan to include that statement in the final product to ensure our involvement cannot be misinterpreted or misconstrued. You’ll find that because - as stated before - this is not a political issue, but a human issue, the solution we do endorse will be the same whether I say it to Steffan Tubbs of KNUS or Vic Vela of CPR.

As a valued supporter of the Step Denver solution, and an active and engaged member of our community, I ask that you please feel free to share this message with anyone that expresses concern to you, or even preemptively to others you may feel it important to know this.

I extend my sincere appreciation to you for taking the time to read this and gain a better understanding of my involvement in these types of initiatives. My hope is that all of our partners in this mission – you – can serve as advocates as these discussions arise in your families and social circles and that our community as a whole will begin to participate in vital solutions to help those who want the help and protect the rights and quality of life for citizens contributing to make our city clean and safe for all.

Thank you for all you do to assist us with the solution. We are truly grateful.

Paul Scudo
Executive Director