Edmonton needs subsidized housing that can accommodate large families of refugees and immigrants, the co-ordinator of housing for the Mennonite Centre for Newcomers said Tuesday.

One out of five families she sees is too big for accommodation that is available in Edmonton, Delmy Garcia-Hoyt said.

"The most that I have seen is ... a four-bedroom. You cannot put a family of eight to nine children in a four-bedroom apartment plus the mom and the dad," Garcia-Hoyt said.

Yadira San Juan knows how challenging it can be for a family living in a space that is too small. San Juan came to Edmonton from Colombia three years ago as a single mother of five children and lived in a two-bedroom apartment.

Through Garcia-Hoyt as translator, San Juan says the cramped quarters put extra stress on her family.

"The stress came that we used to have lots of fights because we didn't have the space," San Juan said through Garcia-Hoyt.

Mohammad Nazari, his wife and eight children came from Afghanistan. They live in a subsidized housing complex, but because the family is so large its members live in separate townhouses, half a block apart.

Nazari is working 10-hour days, six days a week, to earn enough money to buy a house one day.

The social agencies that work with immigrants and refugees say affordable new housing being built by the city and the provincial government in Edmonton should include a few spaces specifically for large families.

Millions of dollars have been promised by both levels of government for affordable housing to be built in Edmonton over the next decade.