WASHINGTON — Alicia Johnson and her husband wanted to renovate their home last fall but ran into a roadblock: When they tried to refinance their mortgage and borrow against their equity, five banks said no.

Last year your father-in-law bought you golf clubs. There was just one problem: you don’t golf. So, into the garage they went, precariously placed on top of the toddler clothing your teenage daughter once wore, a long-neglected craft table, lawn chairs, and a cracked sled.

Cohousing is a community-focused living arrangement, where residents share space, chores and fellowship. The idea started in Denmark in the 1960s and has spread across Europe and the U.S.

Alma Gaul