Afghan refugee Zabi Waseq has spent most of his twenties in limbo, awaiting news of a permanent home.
- Up to 39 refugees will get access to accommodation for six weeks
- The former aged care home will eventually be redeveloped for affordable housing
- The SA government says it is working on long-term solutions to the state's housing shortage
After fleeing Afghanistan in 2015, he sought asylum in India, and five years later was granted a humanitarian visa by the Australian government.
But the global pandemic grounded him in India for another two years.
After arriving in Adelaide in April, he spent five months living in a hotel, but has now been offered temporary accommodation at a former aged care home in Regency Park.
Charities Uniting SA and AMES Australia will provide up to 39 refugees a room for six weeks, as a temporary solution to Adelaide's housing shortage.
AMES Australia chief executive Cath Scarth said the facility would help new migrants get on their feet.
"Living somewhere like this for the first six weeks will just make a difference for people who have come from an incredibly traumatised background," she said.
Mr Waseq lives with a degenerative disease and said life with disability in India was "very difficult".
"As a refugee, especially as a refugee that has a disability, living in India was a not very good experience," he said.
"We didn't have the right to work, and we couldn't afford to live in a good way.
"It was great news for us to come to Australia, and have somewhere we can finally call home."
The facility also houses NDIS clients who have been discharged from hospital, but do not have permanent accommodation to go into.
More arrivals expected 'every week'
Earlier this year, the federal government announced an additional 16,500 humanitarian visas would be granted to Afghan refugees like Mr Waseq over the next four years – on top of Australia's existing humanitarian program.
Ms Scarth said that – plus the Albanese government's commitment to boosting skilled migration by 35,000 places per year – meant there would certainly be a steady influx of migrants into Adelaide.
"There will be a variety of people arriving to this facility from a range of places, and people will be arriving every week," she said.
"When they get here, we pick them up at the airport and we need to find somewhere for them to live."
The site will be redeveloped by the state government in three years, to be turned into affordable housing.
Social Services Minister Nat Cook said the state government planned to build an affordable housing precinct, and was actively looking for long-term housing solutions for refugee arrivals.
"Firstly, we need to establish whether these people are planning to say here long term, or whether they plan to go home," she said.
"We need to make sure we can accommodate people and we have made significant investments since coming into government."
The state government has budgeted $177 million to build 400 new public houses, half of which will be built in metropolitan Adelaide.
With a bachelor's degree in computer science, Mr Waseq said he hoped to find work soon.
"A lot of refugees are qualified and hardworking, so my message is that refugees should be accepted, because we are thirsty for opportunities."