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A home is a dwelling-place used as a permanent or semi-permanent residence for an individual, family, household or several families in a tribe. It is often a house, apartment, or other building, or alternatively a mobile home, houseboat, yurt or any other portable shelter. Larger groups may live in a nursing home, children's home, convent or any similar institution. A homestead also includes agricultural land and facilities for domesticated animals. Where more secure dwellings are not available, people may live in the informal and sometimes illegal shacks found in slums and shanty towns. More generally, "home" may be considered to be a geographic area, such as a town, village, suburb, city, or country.
Transitory accommodation, such as a hospital, prison, boarding school, college or university is not normally considered permanent enough to replace a more stable location as 'home'. In 2005, some 100 million people worldwide were estimated to be homeless, although some prefer the term 'houseless' or 'unsheltered'.
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A home is generally a place that is close to the heart of the owner, and can become a prized possession. It has been argued that psychologically "The strongest sense of home commonly coincides geographically with a dwelling. Usually the sense of home attenuates as one moves away from that point, but it does not do so in a fixed or regular way." Since it can be said that humans are generally creatures of habit, the state of a person's home has been known to physiologically influence their behavior, emotions, and overall mental health. People may become homesick when they leave their home over an extended period of time. Places like homes can trigger self-reflection, thoughts about who someone is or used to be or who they might become. These types of reflections also occur in places where there is a collective historical identity, such as Gettysburg or Ground Zero.
Popular sayings include "a man's home is his castle", "there is no place like home", "home sweet home", "to be at home", "home from home", "make yourself at home", "you can never go home again", "home is where the heart is" and "home is where you hang your hat".
The word home can be used for various types of residential community institutions in which people can live, such as nursing, retirement homes for seniors, foster homes, etc. Short-term accommodation in for example in a boarding school, prison, treatment facility, or while studying at a college of university is unlikely to be considered 'home'.
Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948 contains the following text regarding housing and quality of living: "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services..."
In 2004, the United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, defined a homeless household as "those households without a shelter that would fall within the scope of living quarters. They carry their few possessions with them, sleeping in the streets, in doorways or on piers, or in another space, on a more or less random basis."
In 2009, at the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Conference of European Statisticians recommended that homeless people are classified in two broad groups (noting that that this would not provide a complete definition):