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Has anyone seen my key?

Most of us were born in a house. Whether it's a flat, a house or any other type of dwelling, with more or less living conditions, most people were born in a dwelling. And most people also grew up in a dwelling, either the same one or another one they moved into, and wondering when their turn would come to have a dwelling of their own. By the time you start thinking about it, it doesn't seem to matter whether you own your own home, rent it, or whatever. It's a house. And many people even think that when they move into their own accommodation, they would like to do it with their friends or colleagues. And some even do it or try it when they go to study at university and stay in a university residence.

And as you grow up thinking about having your own accommodation, at some point you are entrusted with the key to the house. The age at which this happens differs from family to family and depends on many other factors. But this leap helps the person to develop a set of skills and responsibilities towards housing, that housing that is also theirs and where they live, usually with their family.

Housing is that space where the main function is to have the quality of being habitable. It encompasses multiple dimensions, namely the physical, cultural, economic, ecological and health dimensions. It is the locus of sociability of the individual and his family, a place of construction and consolidation of life and health. This sociological, and also cultural, conception of housing also considers the meaning that its members give to housing and the uses they make of it, as well as lifestyles and risk behaviours. In addition, it constitutes a basic need for any person, which goes beyond the purely economic domain. As such, housing is a fundamental social determinant of health and well-being.

Access to adequate housing has long been seen as a basic human right and is considered an integral factor for the enjoyment of other economic, social and cultural rights. According to the United Nations (UN) Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, satisfactory housing consists of: legal security of tenure; availability of accessible services, facilities and infrastructure; habitability; accessibility (e.g. access to employment, health services, schools, etc.); cultural adequacy; and affordability.

Failure to meet any, or a group of, the above housing needs, among other things, can cause poor health outcomes, resulting in an increased financial burden on the health system. It also usually results in a significant reduction in educational opportunities, while other less essential activities (such as cultural, recreational and leisure activities) are drastically suppressed or completely reduced.

Given its relevance to an individual's well-being, it is not surprising that for most people around the world, home ownership is of the utmost importance, regardless of the cultural factors behind it.

But we know that not everyone has a home? For example, the case of the homeless, who for a certain period of their lives, major or minor, are without access to housing. And we know that the physical and mental health conditions of this group are quite fragile. Housing and mental health are often linked. Poor mental health can make it harder to deal with housing problems. And being homeless or having problems where you live can make your mental health worse.

What about other people? For example, these days, with the rising cost of housing, whether owned or rented, there is increasing talk of the difficulties of certain groups of people in society having much more difficult access to housing. It is not by chance that many continue to live with their families, or have returned to live with them due to the difficulties they have encountered in the meantime. And the others, do they all have a home? For example, what is it like for people diagnosed with a neuropsychiatric disorder? In the case of many situations where there is a psychiatric diagnosis, for example Schizophrenia. Over the years we have heard about the creation of autonomous and transitional housing projects, so that when the people concerned are sufficiently able to make their life project fully autonomous and independent, they can move into their own housing.

But despite these programmes, which are still happening in small numbers, we must think about how people with a neuropsychiatric diagnosis can, by themselves, make the necessary decisions to have their own housing! It will be necessary to think in an adapted way for all the situations in which these diagnoses occur. However, let's think about those in which people are diagnosed early and after a certain period of psychological, psychiatric and medical intervention, they are able to work independently and also think about their housing. What is it like in these situations? For example, what is it like in the vast majority of adult autistic people?

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