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Manufactured Housing Institute CEO Lesli Gooch Said ‘Our Goals Are Aligned” to Civic Leader Ivory Mewborn Asking for MHI Legal, Other Direct Engagement in Manufactured Home ‘Plant a Home’ Zoning Placement Controversy


In the later part of February 2022, MHProNews was provided with some forwarded emails and a related document that are all provided below. MHProNews also asked for MHI feedback on what follows. Each of those details are made available in the self-explanatory in the email thread that includes a written record of a phone call from Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) CEO, Lesli Gooch, Ph.D., to the Reverend Ivory Mewborn, Mayor Pro-Tem of Ayden, NC. Mewborn is also the Vice Chair of the influential Pitt County Human Rights Council. Note the emails are shown in historic sequence from the original message, dated 2.8.2022 to the most recent. As a programming note, that council could be the focus of another MHProNews exclusive – a related report that is possible in the days ahead.

—– Forwarded Message —–

From: Ivory Mewborn <>

To: <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; Ivory Mewborn <>

Sent: Tuesday, February 8, 2022, 10:26:43 PM EST

Subject: Rev Ivory Mewborn, Mayor Pro-Tem of Ayden, NC Request to Manufactured Housing Institute and Leaders

Manufactured Housing Institute and Leaders,

As you may or may not recall, the co-founder and publishers of MHProNews/MHLivingNews has repeatedly weighed in on behalf of the plight of poor whites, blacks and others of modest means here in Ayden, N.C. Struggles to make “Plant A Home,” a pro-manufactured housing program a reality has been embraced by some but not all town leaders.  Over time, I’ve read many articles on their websites that allege MHI and their ‘state affiliates’ of posturing but not delivering on issues like ours. I believe it is only fair and proper that you also have an opportunity to weigh in on behalf of Plant A Home and the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 regarding its enhanced preemption provision as it applies here in Ayden and beyond.

We recently had insights and feedback from the top attorney at a legal nonprofit. One of the questions that arose could be paraphrased like this. Have you contacted the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) to see if they would provide you, the Taft family, and others like them with the support you need?

As an elected public official that happens to be black, I believe MHI is missing out on a great opportunity to breathe new life into tens of millions of Americans of all backgrounds and aspirations. To own a manufactured home is the only shot these families will ever have at the American Dream.

We need MHI and/or the to use its legal resources and influence to help us in Ayden make the enhanced preemption that MHI CEO Dr. Lesli Gooch said should be enforced a reality. Will you do so? Anything you can do within the range of your powers to help us with be greatly appreciated. Please advise.

Thank you,

Rev Ivory Mewborn
Mayor Pro-tem of Ayden, NC
Vice Chair Pitt County Human Relations Commission


A few days later was this follow up, apparently after a call from Gooch to Mewborn (see those call notes, further below).


—– Forwarded Message —–

From: Ivory Mewborn <>

To: <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; Bobby Burns <>; <>; <>; <>; <>

Sent: Wednesday, February 16, 2022, 06:18:14 PM EST

Subject: “Plant A home Program” /Enhanced Preemption Provision

Ms. Lesli Gooch, MHI Leaders, and Leaders,

Ms. Gooch called, and I wanted to begin by thanking her for calling me with her expressed statements and concerns over the challenges Ayden faces in the battle for affordable housing. Specifically, my request fits your stated mission of advancing manufactured housing. Many of our town’s residents see manufactured homes as their only possible path to the American Dream of home ownership.

I’ve attached the call notes I took as Ms. Gooch spoke.  What I didn’t see, and would ask that she or someone else clarify is what followed this link from my original request on February 8, 2022.

“We need MHI and/or the to use its legal resources and influence to help us in Ayden make the enhanced preemption that MHI CEO Dr. Lesli Gooch said should be enforced a reality. Will you do so? Anything you can do within the range of your powers to help us will be greatly appreciated. Please advise.

That question still stands. Will you contact town officials and clearly express that MHI and/or others being addressed herein call on Ayden, NC to swiftly and permanently honor the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act’s “enhanced preemption” provision?  And if Ayden doesn’t comply to such a requested/suggested email that others can and will see, will you express to them that you are prepared to deploy your legal resources to compel Ayden to honor federal law?

I’ve also attached my call notes. I wrote as rapidly as I could, but if there was something I missed, please email that to me too. Kindly confirm or clarify anything you think I need in my notes. As a public official, I’m sure you understand the value of accurate records. Your help in that process is valued. Please see the below contacts for the Town of Ayden.


Matt Livingston/ Manager    (252) 481-5819

Steven Smith / Planner          (252)481-5828


Thank you,


Rev Ivory Mewborn
Mayor Pro-tem of Ayden, NC
Vice Chair Pitt County Human Relations Commission

These are the call notes provided by the Rev. Ivory Mewborn, Mayor Pro-Tem in Ayden, NC to MHProNews. They were attached to his email to MHI leaders. Note: in some browsers, you can click on the above, follow the prompts, to open it into a larger size for easier reading. Use the escape or back key in most devices to return to this page. 

—– Forwarded Message —–

From: Lesli Gooch <>

To: Ivory Mewborn <>

Sent: Wednesday, February 16, 2022, 06:45:36 PM EST

Subject: RE: “Plant A home Program” /Enhanced Preemption Provision

Thanks so much, Sir. We appreciate your passion and engagement to ensure more people in Ayden, and across America, can attain homeownership through manufactured housing. As we discussed on the call, our goals are aligned.


Lesli Gooch, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer
1655 Fort Myer Drive
Suite 200
Arlington, VA  22209
(703) 558-0660


A screen capture of the above is shown below, with the comments in yellow added by MHProNews. In several browsers and devices, the image below can be expanded for easier viewing/reading.

Note: depending on your browser or device, many images in this report can be clicked to expand. Click the image and follow the prompts. To return to this page, use your back key, escape or follow the prompts.


—– Forwarded Message —–

From: Ivory Mewborn <>

To: <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>; <>

Sent: Thursday, February 17, 2022, 11:44:23 PM EST

Subject: “Plant A home Program” /Enhanced Preemption Provision”

Ms. Gooch,

I thank you for your recent message. Does your reply mean that you will use your legal resources on behalf of  residents in Ayden, NC – or elsewhere – to see that local officials are enforcing Manufactured Housing Improvement Act mandated “enhanced preemption?” That is my goal and that of others here who want a new manufactured home. Is that how your goal and ours are aligned?  Please clarify or confirm.

Thank you,


Rev Ivory Mewborn

Mayor Pro-tem of Ayden, NC

Vice Chair Pitt County Human Relations Commission


from: L. A. Tony K <>
to: Leo <>,
Lesli Gooch <>,
“Clayton, Kevin” <>,
Tim Williams <>,
“Hodges, Tom” <>,
Eric Hamilton <>,,,
John Greiner <>
date: Feb 25, 2022, 12:44 PM
subject: Media outreach regarding MHI CEO Lesli Gooch connected document and emails


Leo and Lesli,

MHProNews has been provided with some emails and related information from Rev. Ivory Mewborn, Mayor Pro-Tem of Ayden, NC. It is our understanding the Ms. Gooch has told Rev Mewborn that MHI is in ‘alignment’ with his efforts to get their town’s other leaders to formally recognize and honor the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 (MHIA) “enhanced preemption” provision. It is also MHProNews’ understanding that Rev Mewborn asked for a specific commitment to make clear to Ayden officials that MHI is willing to use your legal resources to make enforcement of “enhanced preemption” there a reality.

While Ms. Gooch has purportedly doubled down on the “alignment” statement, it is our information that there has been no contact between her, others involved at MHI, and municipal leadership.

While MHI is welcome to weigh in on any of the topics linked below, we plan on doing a report on this in the near term. Please advise MHI’s specific statement and stances on advancing racial equity for the minority and other modest income citizens of Ayden and beyond that want a manufactured home. Will MHI engage in a substantive, and if needed, legal suit to compel enforcement fashion?

Please email your reply for our mutual accuracy in communications.

Thank you.



Additional Information, and Masthead Analysis in Brief

No one at MHI responded on the record to the email above from MHProNews. The Masthead may explore some off the record insights in a planned follow up.

In our experience, the Rev. Mewborn is a classy gentleman. He is not likely to wag his finger more than he did in the above. But it is fair to observe that Gooch-MHI could well be accused of posturing and hypocrisy, based on the content of her statements vs. their actual actions.

Mewborn cited Gooch’s racial equity op-ed to National Mortgage News. When given an opportunity to support what she claims she and MHI want, she has apparently mouthed nice words, but has done nothing of pragmatic value.

If that changes, MHProNews will plan a follow up report to reflect such a development. But at this point in time, MHI is quite in line with what MHARR’s Danny Ghorbani aptly observed in 2021. Namely, MHI is posturing and preening, without doing or having a track record of accomplishment under Gooch and MHI 2.0’s so-called leadership.

“Shell Game“ Affordable Manufactured Home Threats “On Steroids“ – Exclusive Probe into Manufactured Housing Industry’s Twin Crises — a One-on-One Interview with MHARR President and CEO, Mark Weiss

More ahead on this developing topic. ###


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All on Capitol Hill were welcoming and interested with the discussion of manufactured housing related issues on our 12.3.2019 meetings. But Texas Congressman Al Green’s office was tremendous in their hospitality. Our son’s hand is on a package that included the Constitution of the United States and other goodies. MHProNews has worked with people and politicos across the left-right divide.

By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for

Tony earned a journalism scholarship and earned numerous awards in history and in manufactured housing.

For example, he earned the prestigious Lottinville Award in history from the University of Oklahoma, where he studied history and business management. He’s a managing member and co-founder of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and

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Related References:

The text/image boxes below are linked to other reports, which can be accessed by clicking on them.

“Where is the ‘Equity’ for Manufactured Homes and Consumers of Affordable Housing?” – Unpacking Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform CEO Mark Weiss “Issues and Perspectives”