Two men and two women sat at a table under a Maine Turnpike overpass near the Portland-Westbrook line late Monday morning, making it clear they’re in no hurry to leave.

Each had a 25-ounce Natty Daddy, a high-alcohol beer, as they played a game of Trouble. Nearby, three tents were set up near a graffiti-covered wall. A mattress lay on the ground.

“We have nowhere to go. Nowhere,” one of the women said as the highway traffic roared overhead. “We’ll probably all go to jail.”

Portland police have given people staying on nearly 30 acres of land off Brighton Avenue until Wednesday to clear out. It’s unknown how many occupants of the encampment have left or intend to do so by Wednesday.

But the four people sitting beneath the highway said they have no plans to go anywhere.

It’s unclear exactly how many people are staying on the privately owned land, which sits behind Lowe’s and Jo-Ann Fabrics. But it’s apparent that the encampment has been there for years, with well-trodden paths connecting a network of campsites and piles of garbage. Some camps have wooden structures and fire pits, and others have gardens, including one with tomatoes, squash and watermelon.

None of the four occupants interviewed Monday wanted to be identified or would give their full name. Only Andy, a 36-year-old native of Waterville, would give a first name.

Homeless people play a board game Monday under a turnpike overpass where they have set up tents and hope to remain. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Homeless people play a board game Monday under a turnpike overpass where they have set up tents and hope to remain. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Andy estimated that there are more than two dozen people living in what some people have called Tent City, or the Pine Tree Camp. Some have camped there for nearly a decade, he said.

“Don’t call it ‘Tent City,’ ” Andy said. “We call it home.”

Fliers have been popping up around the city to “Save Pine Tree Camp,” saying that “homelessness is not a crime.” Although the fliers call for a halt to any enforcement action, police say they plan to follow through with the order and clear the campsites this week.

Police issued trespassing notices to most of the campers this month, after seeing an increase in service calls to the area for incidents such as domestic violence, arson and individuals with outstanding warrants. That was before a man living in the encampment was stabbed by a fellow camper last week, police said.

Police Chief Michael Sauschuck said officers will visit the area Tuesday to assess the situation. If any campers remain Wednesday, they will be issued a trespass notice, Sauschuck said. If they don’t clear out by Thursday, they could be cited for criminal trespassing and face either a summons to appear in court or possible arrest, he said.

Sauschuck hopes campers will take advantage of shelters and other services being offered by social workers.

“It’s unfortunate that this situation is occurring, but folks are trying to reach out and to give these folks the assistance they need,” he said.

Case workers from the city and nonprofit groups such as Milestone and Preble Street have been conducting regular outreach to the campers. The goal is to use housing vouchers or bring campers into the shelter system.

A campsite in the 30 acres off Brighton Avenue where homeless people stay contains a tent and other items. Some camps have wooden structures, fire pits or gardens. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

A campsite in the 30 acres off Brighton Avenue where homeless people stay contains a tent and other items. Some camps have wooden structures, fire pits or gardens. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

However, Portland’s tight rental market is making it difficult to find housing, even when someone has a voucher, said Donna Yellen, chief program officer at Preble Street, a social services agency that operates a soup kitchen and day shelter in downtown Portland.

“There just isn’t enough affordable housing,” Yellen said. “The housing crisis in Portland is so severe that they are forced to make their homes outside.”

Portland’s emergency shelters are bursting at the seams, forcing the city to open it’s General Assistance office as an overnight “warming center” where people have to sit upright in plastic chairs.

Yellen said there are about 118 people in Portland who would rather camp out than stay in shelters or sit in chairs.

It’s unclear who owns the property where the campers are staying. Efforts to contact a possible owner have been unsuccessful.

City officials previously said it was owned by Emery-Waterhouse Co., which is located across Rand Avenue, and the Inn at Portland, which is adjacent to the site. On Monday, however, city officials pointed to three parcels owned by Centro Heritage SPE 4, LLC. The city mails its tax bills to an accounting firm in Arizona and could not provide further information about the owner or manager of the property.

Back under the bridge, the four adults said they weren’t interested in entering the overcrowded shelter, citing concerns about bedbugs, lice and scabies. Instead, they are content to wait out the police deadline and see what happens.

“I’ll take this over snoring and farting any day,” Andy said.