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In an effort to connect more people to more affordable housing arrangements, a group at MIT created a web site that helps them find a roommate who wouldn't be included in typical social circles, and may even be separated by a generation or two. Yet, the exchange of affordable rent for companionship and help with chores makes this marriage a very appealing one.

After living with more than a dozen different roommates in his young life, most of them strangers, Dean Kaplan is well-versed in the particulars of those first meetings — the short introductions, the perfunctory pleasantries, and then the quick getting on with life.

“After you move enough times,” said the 25-year-old Baltimore native, there is “definitely a high degree of nonchalance.”

In late August, though, as he stood on the front porch of a sizable multistory house in Cambridge ready to meet his newest roommate, he found himself uncharacteristically nervous and eager to make a good first impression.

Of all the roommates he’d had in the previous few years, Sarah Heintz would be the first septuagenarian.

In fact, Kaplan, a student at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, and Heintz, a 77-year-old whose grown daughter now lives across town, are part of an experiment in connecting young people in need of cheap rent with older residents who wouldn’t mind a little extra companionship and an occasional hand around the house.

The notion is driven by the Boston area’s housing crisis, which has propelled rents through the stratosphere and made living space so scarce that Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh last month increased his goal for building new housing in the city by 2030, from 53,000 to 69,000 units.

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