WOODBURY - After a decade spent serving the needs of the homeless, Nassau's Housing and Homeless Services Director Connie Lassandro was suddenly fired last Thursday, which she says raises the question whether it was a politically motivated decision.

A county spokesman said Lassandro, who headed the Section 8 and Homelessness Program, was let go because "after a thorough review, it became clear that a change in the department was necessary to improve the services provided to our residents."

Lassandro, however, says she and 10 staff members were fired to be replaced by people with less experience in housing matters who have political ties to County Executive Ed Mangano (R-Nassau).

Lassandro says her own replacement is a man who used to work on Wall Street and whom she herself hired just last year.

Longtime housing advocate Marge Rogatz says Lassandro managed complicated programs involving tens of millions of dollars in federal and state aid.

"You cannot walk off the street or from another position and do it," Rogatz says.

Since his appointment, Lassandro's replacement has proposed to merge the Office of Community Development with Housing and Homeless Services.