RESIDENTS in two local estates are experiencing very different sides of a housing crisis this week.
Keys were handed over for the new €5m council houses at Mell's Boice Court, but less than 2km away, residents in Aston Village and Termon Abbey are battling to get their estates finished eight years after buying their homes.
A war of words erupted over the unfinished private development at Monday's county council meeting, forcing the chairman to suspend it for 10 minutes for tempers to cool.
But the families moving into Boice Court are experiencing heaven on earth, as many had been on the housing list for years.
' We have been waiting for a three-bedroom house for 11 years now,' said Lorna Branigan, who is moving into her new home with daughters Rebecca and Kirsten. THE FIRST tenants of the 50 new social housing units at Boice Court, Mell, received the keys to their houses this week, and most residents will be moving in over the next two weeks.
The new €5.2m development, which includes 30 three-bedroom; two four-bedroom and 15 two-bedroom apartments along with three bungalows for people with special needs, took almost two years to complete.
Funding was also secured for a playground on an open space alongside the scheme.
'I can't believe we are finally in,' says Patricia, a mum of seven children aged 25 to just 2 months, who has moved into a specially adapted bungalow as she has a child with special needs.
' They are beautiful houses, and we have so much space, as we were crammed into a threebedroom house in Moneymore before this, so this is wonderful.'
Patricia looks after her special needs son full time, and says this is the first time she has been fully equipped for the task.
' We have two bathrooms, one with a bath, and a big back garden, so it will be much better than where we were,' she adds.
Across the road, another family is getting settled into their new home. 'We have been waiting for a three-bedroom house for 11 years now,' says Lorna Branigan, who is moving into her new home with daughters Rebecca and Kirsten.
'We are over the moon with the house, which is so well- built, and has solar panels, a fitted kitchen, a stove and double-glazing.'
The big hit for her daughter is the playground across the road, which is also popular with another neighbour we spoke with.
' Our three-year-old Robin has been living in it since we got the keys last week,' says Paul Corrigan, who is there with his partner Samantha, her daughter Lauren (18) and their son Cody (1).
'It is really quiet and much bigger than the house we transferred from in Beechwood Drive, and Samantha's family are all this side of the town, so it is much better.'
Drogheda Borough Council secured the funding for the project from the Department of the Environment, Heritage & Local Government under the investment programme for social housing.
Newry company O'Hanlon and Farrell Contracts Ltd won the tendering process to secure the construction contract, and have previously completed a number of projects in Co Louth.