Nine emergency housing units originally compared to "prison cells" are about to open in West Auckland.

The prefabricated dwellings were moved to a site on Great North Rd near Henderson at the end of last year and quickly attracted complaints from local residents who described them as ugly "slave units" or "prison cells".

But six months later, Housing New Zealand business innovation general manager Andrew Booker says most people understand the units are a valuable tool in solving the Auckland's housing crisis.

"[Community housing trust] VisionWest will be visiting all the neighbours and talking to them about the services that are being provided here," says Booker.

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"This will be a very tightly managed site so I would hope over the next few weeks everybody will welcome the people who will be staying here."

The 28sq m units are fully insulated, double-glazed and are fully self-contained with kitchen, bathroom and laundry.

Single residents will stay for a maximum of 12 weeks during which time a permanent housing solution will be sought.

"There will be a regular turnover of residents every three or four months," says Booker.

"They will get full services during that time, including drug and alcohol or budgeting help while VisionWest work with them to try and find them more sustainable housing."

Booker also says the units will work out significantly cheaper than paying for emergency motel accommodation, which in October last year was costing the Government more than $97,000 a day.

"Building anything new is not cheap but building it longer term, so that we can spread those costs over a much longer term, will certainly work out on a per night basis cheaper than a motel."

Booker says Housing New Zealand currently has around 100 building projects on the go across Auckland.

"We certainly need to be building more both social housing and public housing, so we hopefully don't end up needing those motel units."

"The aim here is to get people who need warm safe secure accommodation out of motels and off the streets."