I’ve written before (here, and here for starters) about the importance of ownership for young people. It’s not easy facing massive student loans and the low earnings typical of entry-level jobs, but becoming an owner is a great goal for all Millennials and in fact, every American. But homeownership rates are at the lowest on record. Not for 51 years has ownership been so low. This is a function of the difficulty Millennials are having building family units and buying homes to house them.

homeownership rate

Bloomberg‘s Patrick Clark and Suzanne Woolley write that, while Millennials are having trouble buying homes, Baby Boomers-embodied as Landlord Nation-are setting themselves up to enjoy retirements built on earning rent from younger generations.

The Pollingers are joining the ranks of what Redfin Chief Executive Glenn Kelman calls Landlord Nation, a group of mom-and-pop investors who have seized on low mortgage rates and robust rent growth to plow savings into rental properties. Together, they’ve lifted the percentage of single-family houses used as rental properties to stratospheric heights, even as many would-be first-time home buyers struggle to reach ignition.

The number of starter homes on the market dropped by more than 44 percent from the first quarter of 2012 to the first quarter of this year, according to research published by Trulia. With entry-level homes in short supply, median prices in the category increased by nearly a third.

The share of single-family homes used as rental properties, meanwhile, has surged to a 30-year high, according to a Zillow analysis of data from the U.S. census. Separate data provided by RealtyTrac show that only 65 percent of homes purchased in 2015 are owner-occupied.

“If credit is tight, it doesn’t matter if it’s also cheap, because the people who can get it don’t need it,” Kelman said. “The haves in our society are renting homes out to have-nots, and they’ve been able to do that at increasingly high rents.”