This morning I actually got a supervisor on the phone. Here's what he had to say that might be useful to others who haven't been lucky enough to get any answers:
1. You do not need to apply to SBA if all you want is rental assistance. The SBA info is used if you are asking for money to cover property losses. If you plan to claim any losses, you HAVE to apply with SBA first, and if you get turned down,then FEMA steps in.
2. If you want rental assistance, you need to fax in the Declaration and Release on the last page of the guide book "Help After a Disaster". Include a copy of a lease or other proof of occupancy.
I've been on the phone with these people for weeks and never was told either of these things. I was told, alternately, that they were waiting for an inspection, that they had waived the inspection, that I needed to apply to SBA, that I needed to drive 180 miles away, that it was automatic, that it was automated, that they needed no other information from me, blah blah blah...
On the other hand, I also noticed that the form they used for my case expired on February 28, 2003. Has it really been that long since Katrina hit? It certainly feels like it.