In its heyday in the 1930s, this Rust Belt town called itself the City of Homes, a place where a working-class man could be master of his own castle.

But when it fell upon hard times, thousands of homes fell into foreclosure in one of the first modern mortgage crises. Thirty years later, many of those houses still sit, their boarded-up windows staring like dead eyes into Youngstown’s streets.

As cities around the country try to pick apart the snarl left by the foreclosure crisis, Youngstown stands out as a troubling specter of how hard it is to have success. Its vacant-building rate is still 20 times the national average, according to figures provided by John D. Bralich, a researcher at the Center for Urban and Regional Studies at Youngstown State University.

But despite the city’s best efforts to deal with the vacant structures — including, most recently, a handful of legal remedies meant to increase municipal control — they remain a maddeningly intractable problem.

Read more about Youngstown’s blight problem from the New York Times after the jump.